Millennial women are ashamed of earning more than their partners, study claims

Some women feel “tired,” “exhausted,” and “resentful” at the prospect of always out-earning their men

Rachel Hosie
Thursday 20 April 2017 15:11

Traditional gender roles are slowly being redefined - no longer are women expected to spend their days cooking, cleaning and bringing up children if they want to be out working, and men are increasingly taking on household chores or becoming ‘stay-at-home’ dads.

Time was when women were financially reliant on men, be that a father or husband. But not only are we now financially independent but many women out-earn their boyfriends and husbands.

No longer is a man expected to pick up the bill at the end of a date, but some men still like the idea of being ‘providers’.

So where does this leave today’s young women?

A new study by Refinery29 has concluded that many millennial women feel “ashamed” and “worried” about earning more than their partners.

In a survey of 130 female breadwinners, it was found that many felt “tired,” “exhausted,” and “resentful” at the prospect of always out-earning their men.

“It's stressful. It's a huge responsibility. I pressure myself to stay in the job I'm at even if I'm unhappy there,” one woman said.

For many women the main issue was that as well as earning the lion’s share, they still feel like they have to do more at home.

Amongst older generations, the attitude that it’s simply wrong for a woman to earn more than her husband prevails. But for millennials it’s not so clear. Do all women really feel earning more that their partners is a problem?

24-year-old Erica* out-earns her boyfriend, who's 25, but she says it doesn’t make her feel any better or any less than him. “He just expects me to pay for more things now!” she told The Independent.

She’s happy to pay for more than him when it comes to activities they do together and their joint savings for a mortgage.

But some couples still split things evenly, despite earning different amounts.

“It makes literally no difference. We both pay 50 per cent of our wages into a joint account that pays the mortgage, food, bills and (hopefully) holidays,” said Sally*, 28.

A 2015 study found that men whose partners earn more than them are more likely to cheat, but it’s hard to know whether this is because the men saw their breadwinning partners as less attractive.

“I think I’d feel a bit uncomfortable if I had a girlfriend who was always picking up the bill at dinners and things,” 32-year-old Peter* told The Independent.

Whilst some men feel emasculated by their wives or girlfriends having a higher income than them, others simply don’t care.

“I don't think it would be emasculating,” 22-year-old Jack* explained to The Independent. “Maybe I'd feel jealous but I guess it depends… I don't think my masculinity would come into it (although I can imagine it would for a lot of guys).”

And 24-year-old Zack agrees: “I wouldn't find it emasculating really. I'd probably be a bit jealous of her job if there was a huge pay gap between us, but otherwise, why should it matter?”

It shouldn’t.

*Names have been changed

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