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[Excerpt] In September 1963, Leave It To Beaver aired for the last time. Yet, the archetype of family life that this show idealized—the employed father and stay-at-home mother within the nuclear family—was so engrained in the collective unconscious that American Women: The Report of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women (hereafter American Women), delivered to President Kennedy in 1963, made almost no mention of it. It was just assumed that this was normal. Fifty years later perhaps the most profound change in American society is the change in family structures. In 1963, roughly two thirds of U.S. households were like the Cleavers in Leave It to Beaver. Today, married couples with children represent only about 20% of U.S. households. The other 80% of households reflect a myriad of families—from single parents to same sex couples to dual-income couples, some of whom are married and some of whom are not. This paper focuses on the changes on the home front and how they have interacted with changes on the work front to create a new set of challenges and opportunities for ensuring that women and men can reach their full potential.


Suggested Citation
Weisberg, A., & Galinsky, E. (2014). Changing families, changing work: A paper for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s commission on the status of women report American Women. Washington, D.C.: Families and Work Institute.