In case you missed it, there was a front page NYT story on Women’s decreasing work force participation.
Here’s a quick excerpt:
"For four decades, the number of women entering the workplace grew at a
blistering pace, fostering a powerful cultural and economic transformation of
American society. But since the mid-1990’s, the growth in the percentage of
adult women working outside the home has stalled, even slipping somewhat in the
last five years and leaving it at a rate well below that of men.
While the change has been under way for a while, it was initially viewed by
many experts as simply a pause in the longer-term movement of women into the
work force. But now, social scientists are engaged in a heated debate over
whether the gender revolution at work may be over.
Is this shift evidence for the popular notion that many mothers are again
deciding that they prefer to stay at home and take care of their children?
Maybe, but many researchers are coming to a different conclusion: women are
not choosing to stay out of the labor force because of a change in attitudes,
they say. Rather, the broad reconfiguration of women’s lives that allowed most
of them to pursue jobs outside the home appears to be hitting some serious
I find it to be more economic than attitudinal in nature:
"To be sure, mothers’ overcrowded lives have not been the only factor limiting
their roles in the work force. The decline in participation rates for most
groups of women since the recession of 2001 at least partly reflects an overall
slowdown in hiring, which affected men and women roughly equally.
"The main reason for women’s declining labor-force participation rates over
the last four years was the weakness of the labor market," said Heather Boushey,
an economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal research
institute in Washington. "Women did not opt out of the labor force because of
To be fair, the decline did begin "well before the economic slump a few
Stretched to Limit, Women Stall March to Work
NYT, March 2, 2006