Differences Between One- and Two-Career Families

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While it may seem outmoded to think in terms of one- versus two-career households, research does show that there may be some key differences between the two. Of course, the infinite variety of permutations of work and family make it difficult if not impossible to generalize or make any judgments about whether one family structure is better than any other. The number of kids, the presence of any disabilities among the children, the ethnic background of the individuals, the definition of "career," and the socio-economic class or status issues also come into play when comparing and contrasting single- versus dual-career households. In general, though a dual-career household offers greater opportunities for financial stability, gender equity, and positive role modeling for children. Early research on the differences between one- and two-career families revealed patterns and trends related to gender roles and gender equality. Burke & Weir (1976), for example, found that single-career households tended to entail a female housewife who tended to domestic duties and child rearing. In such families, the housewife was usually in a passive role, whereas the husband served in a position of dominance and power (Burke & Weir, 1976). In dual-career households in the 1970s, there was a greater tendency towards gender equality. Hester & Dickerson's (1984) research substantiates the hypothesis that role differentiation may be the most significant issue in traditional heterosexual marriages.
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