Opt-Out Revolution Fizzles

Half of American women prefer working outside the home over tending to it.

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So much for the opt-out revolution.

Now we discover more evidence that the so-called revolution, in which career-oriented women ditch their hard-earned work-world advancement as soon as children come along, is media mythology. A new Gallup Poll finds more American women prefer working outside the home over tending to it—a trend reversal Gallup pollsters call significant.

For the past five years, the number of women preferring to be homemakers was on the rise, leading some to believe the so-called opt-out revolution was to blame. In 2005, only 42 percent of women said they'd prefer to work outside the home. Today, that number's up to 50 percent. Just 45 percent would choose to stay home full time, an 8-point drop from two years ago. Men, on the other hand, are showing more openness to home life, with 29 percent saying they'd opt for it, up from 27 percent in 2005.

Overall, men and women are increasingly dependent on outside income as they spend more of their lives single or need a dual income to raise a family. But Gallup also finds more Americans would choose to work even if need weren't a factor—revealing that 58 percent would work if they didn't have to and 37 percent would still choose homemaking if economic necessity were an afterthought.

It's clear that not everyone likes to work. Not everyone who works does so in pursuit of a career, as opposed to in pursuit of an income. In fact, a much smaller percentage of Americans are blessed with the freedom to pursue careers than the number who have to work because they need money.

Among the career-oriented, however, it's my humble opinion that ambitious women are represented in equal numbers with ambitious men. And most ambitious men and women want both—a satisfying career and a fulfilling home life with neither precluding the other.