Although men still take home bigger paychecks in the vast majority of marriages, one in four couples today defies the status quo, as wives increasingly begin to assume the title of the household breadwinner. And some couples have completely reversed traditional norms, with women taking on the role of not just primary, but sole breadwinners.
As Business Report covers in its new The Network e-newsletter, Ann Heine, the CEO of the Surgical Specialty Center of Baton Rouge, became the sole breadwinner of her family when her husband—a former teacher and coach—became the stay-at-home parent to their two children.
“I could not do my job if we didn’t have one stay-at-home parent,” says Heine, who became CEO of the center in 2016. “My husband is always saying I can do more than I think I can. He’s very supportive.”
This nontraditional path never posed a problem for the couple, and they’re open to talking about it—though Heine acknowledges it’s far from the norm in Baton Rouge.
“There are definitely still stigmas out there,” she says. “The notion obviously still hangs out there that men are expected to be the breadwinner.”
Such stigmas are so prevalent that other female breadwinners contacted for this story declined to talk on the record, saying the subject is a sensitive one—often more so for their husbands. In fact, research suggests couples in this situation are so uncomfortable with it they’ll go so far as to hide their true earnings.
But the fact is as more women move into higher-paying careers, the more common it will become to have wives assuming the role of family breadwinners, especially among younger generations.