With the increase in dual income households and women main earners, many homes now have a gap, which would have been traditionally filled by the role of ‘wife’. Women are typically earning 80% of their male counterparts and can’t always afford to outsource the activities of that role, such as housework, childcare and cooking, and some women wouldn’t want to even if they had the resources. So how do women then cope and succeed as breadwinner?
In Dec 2012-Jan 2013, I undertook a Breadwinners research study, I had over 600 respondents, 76% of which were female, 64% were married or co-habiting, 78% lived in the UK, and 66% were employed full time.
One of the questions asked in the study was: What are the skills required to succeed as breadwinner?
As you can see over 50% of respondents stated Work-life balance, Confidence, Assertiveness and Stress management as the top skills needed. Closely followed by Time management, Delegation and Money management.
That Work-life balance is top, holds no surprises, particularly as 76% of the respondents were women, who will often feel torn between work and caring responsibilities, but why confidence and assertiveness?
Well my experience is that women have to be confident taking on a role that is still relatively uncommon, they have to ignore others assumptions about what the role of ‘women’ in society should be and decide on their own route. This might mean confidently explaining to their child why they are not in the playground every evening, or seeing elderly relatives less frequently, or no longer apologising for a little dust in their home.
When you are the main earner, you are more compelled to assert yourself in the workplace in order to maintain your role and the security of your family and be confident that the decisions they are making are right. This might mean negotiating harder on a pay rise, refusing to be ignored in meetings and being more strategic about your career choices. As your time is limited and precious you will be more assertive about using it wisely.
Stress management is particularly critical and one women struggle with as they often put themselves second. In my book Rocking Your Role, I dedicate a chapter to investing in you as the main earner, without it you will definitely be derailed.
There is no roadmap for women who are main earners. Like any adventure this is then both exciting and terrifying. The good news is that women have the opportunity to chart their own path and make being the breadwinner work for them and their families.
What do you think of these seven skills? Would you add anything?
Find out about the Female Breadwinners Leadership Success Programme, where we enable women to live in state of contentment, happiness and abundance.
For the full Breadwinner 2013 report authored by Helen Lewis and Jenny Garrett email firstname.lastname@example.org