We reported back in October 2008 that wives in dual-breadwinner households were more likely to quit their jobs than husbands when their spouses were overworked.
Nothing’s changed in the intervening year and a half, according to Youngjoo Cha, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Cornell University. Cha has pored through U.S. Census data and arrived at the same conclusion she reached back in October 2008: When push comes to shove, women and men occupy “separate spheres” in household responsibilities.
Women whose husbands work 60 hours or more per week are 42 percent more likely to quit than women whose husbands don’t burn the candle at both ends. However, husbands with overworked wives are not more likely to quit.
Cha studied 8,484 professional workers and 17,648 nonprofessional workers, and found differences between the two groups. Professional women with overworked husbands were 51 percent more likely to quit their jobs than nonprofessional women. And professional mothers were 112 percent more likely to quit than nonprofessional mothers. “In professional and managerial occupations, the norm of overwork and the culture of intensive parenting tend to be strongest,” Cha says.
Cha says her research indicates that women working full-time shoulder more responsibilities at home than their husbands. So a busy husband can be the tipping point that pushes them out of the career world and into full-time homemaking status.