Of late, there seems to be an unending number of conversations about the role of women in today's society. Should women lean in? Should they lean back? Should they put on heels or just be barefoot in the kitchen?
A new report issued by the Pew Research Center that finds women are the main source of income in 40 percent of U.S. households with children has sparked the latest round of debate and analysis. This is a significant increase from 1960, when just 11 percent of women were the main breadwinners in such households.
Incredulously, conservative blogger Erick Erickson warned the trend was "anti-science" and "disruptive to the natural world order," as the male was to be in the "dominant role" and women are to serve in a "complimentary role." Mississippi Republican Governor Phil Bryant did his best to pile on by stating that America's slide towards educational mediocrity came when women entered the workforce. Fox News host Eric Bolling even suggested that having more women in the workplace would lead to more abortions. Really?
Just to be clear, a woman working outside of the home isn't exactly a novel concept. Even in the Bible, there are numerous examples of women who were industrious outside of the home and somehow didn't cause the demise of society or their family. Lydia, for instance, in Acts 16 maintained a household at the same time she was a dealer involved in the very expensive trade of dyed purple garments. When she met the Apostle Paul, the Lord found favor with her and blessed her and her family.
In Proverbs 31, scripture actually defines the role of a woman by saying that "From her earnings, she plants a vineyard … and she makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen."
The number of women in the workplace is only going to increase. As the Pew study suggests, women now account for roughly half the workforce and are outpacing men in education by earning more bachelor's and advanced degrees.
The increase in participation has also had a positive impact on the U.S. economy. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, the increase in the female labor force over the last fifty years has added nearly 2 percentage points annually to GDP growth.
It is also having an impact on public policy. Currently, there is a record number of women serving in the Senate (20), with seven of them serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee, also a record. Finally, after decades of inaction and denial, the escalating issue of sexual abuse in the military is being brought to light, in large part because of the female senators demanding action to rid the military of this "cancer".
All in all, women continue to redefine themselves both professionally and in the workplace as a whole. One can only hope that when the next report is issued, reactions won't compare women to the animal kingdom or suggest abortion consequences, but instead applaud and accept them for their positive contributions in the world.