There was a recent Twitter ruckus between Hilary Rosen and Ann Romney, wife of GOP presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. Sure, the media says it was about politics. I see it quite differently. I view it as the disconnect that still occurs between women who “work” outside of the home and the women who “work” in the home, aka stay-at-home moms.
Hilary Rosen, a Democrat and a lobbyist – a “working” woman who earns a living outside of the home, stated that Ann Romney, who opted to not work outside of the home, but instead chose to stay home and raise her children, essentially had no idea about the true impact of the economy on women because Ann never “worked a day in her life.” Though she has since apologized for her “poorly chosen words”, those “words” nevertheless hit a not-so-new nerve, as the issue of women who work vs. women who stay home once again hit the spotlight.
Do women who work and earn an income have a better grasp of money or its economic impact than the women who do not get a paycheck at the end of the week?
Studies and statistics show that women are the buying powers in our economy. Whether she is a career woman or is a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), women make the bulk of the purchasing decisions in their households. The purchases go beyond the typical household items such as groceries, sundries, and the items for their children (clothing, school supplies, and recreational necessities), but also extend to “male-oriented” products such as cars, electronics and home improvement items. Whether there is a husband or father in the picture, we know that women are the ones who do the grocery or Target/ Wal-mart shopping! Parse the general pool of women into moms, and moms shown to do a majority of their shopping online, which means that women are highly visible and interactive online.
No doubt, women influence the marketplace and make a huge impact on the economic landscape.
Enter the snarkiness that still seems to exist between the careerists and the SAHMs. It really boils down to choice, in my opinion. Some would say that the “highest” calling is to stay home and raise one’s children, and others would vehemently argue that it is an old-fashioned notion and that the modern woman does not “have” to stay home. Notwithstanding women who, for pure economic reasons, must work outside of the home, the “choice”, the “privilege”, the “right” to work outside of the home or to stay at home should be respected by both sides of the “debate”.
Add to this, the growing number of women who are starting their own businesses – moms and non-moms alike – the fact remains that women have a tremendous “pull” in our economy. There is value to both staying home to raise a family and going out and earning a paycheck. The “work” may be vastly different, but the responsibilities on either side are still immense and carry their own worth. So to contend that women who work and earn a salary have a greater “understanding” of the economy than those who stay home with their children is mistaken.
Rather than gather on opposing sidelines, women ought to support and respect one another. We already have to deal with things like the gender gap in the workplace and the struggle for “boardroom” equality. Fighting the good fight ought not be about the social status of working at a job or career or working at the homefront. Women drive the economy through our influence and sheer buying strength. There’s definitely nothing “clueless” about that.