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Earning More and Getting Less

Veronica Tichenor

Publication Year: 2005

For nearly two decades the wage gap between men and women has remained virtually unchanged. Women continue to earn, on average, 80 cents for every dollar that men earn. Yet despite persistent discrimination in wages, studies are also beginning to show that a growing number of women are out-earning their husbands. Nationwide, nearly one-third of working women are the chief breadwinners in their families. The trend is particularly pronounced among the demographic of highly educated women. Does this increase in earnings, however, equate to a shift in power dynamics between husbands and wives?

In Earning More and Getting Less, sociologist Veronica Jaris Tichenor shows how, historically, men have derived a great deal of power over financial and household decisions by bringing home all (or most) of the family's income. Yet, financial superiority has not been a similar source of power for women. Tichenor demonstrates how wives, instead of using their substantial incomes to negotiate more egalitarian relationships, enable their husbands to perpetuate male dominance within the family.

Weaving personal accounts, in-depth interviews, and compelling narrative, this important study reveals disturbing evidence that the conventional power relations defined by gender are powerful enough to undermine hierarchies defined by money. Earning More and Getting Less is essential reading in sociology, psychology, and family and gender studies.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

This project has its beginnings in my graduate-school experience. I was close to finishing my course work in sociology, and wondering how to go about choosing a topic for my dissertation. I knew I was interested in doing work that examined the influence of gender on family relationships. ...

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pp. xiii-xvi

Over the years it has taken to complete this project, I have written these acknowledgements in my head dozens of times. All along the way I have been acutely aware of the debts I owe to so many people, and eagerly looked forward to being able to thank them all in a public and meaningful way. ...

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Chapter 1: Higher-Earning Wives: Swimming against the Tide

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pp. 1-11

Women who make more money than their husbands are a hot topic. They have commanded quite a bit of interest in the national media in the last several years.Articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Jet, More, and Newsweek, with such eye-catching headlines as “When the Big Paycheck Is Hers” ...

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Chapter 2: Thinking about Gender and Power in Marriage

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pp. 12-32

Thinking about power within marriage requires examining the gendered assumptions upon which marriage as an institution is built, as well as the difficulties researchers face in trying to conceptualize and measure power within marriage. In this chapter, I examine how power has been routinely conceptualized and measured within marriage, ...

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Chapter 3: Gendered Bargain: Why Wives Cannot Trade Their Money for Housework

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pp. 33-67

This chapter examines the straightforward bargain implied by the conventional marital contract—that income is exchanged for domestic labor.While we know that employed wives have had little success trading their incomes for a reduction in their domestic labor burden, it is tempting to think that wives with substantially greater incomes could use their resources to negotiate a better deal. ...

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Chapter 4: Dollar Rich and Power Poor: Why Wives Do Not Control the Money

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pp. 68-89

This chapter assesses whether earning the bulk of the family’s money translates neatly into controlling that money. This equation has worked for men; being the sole or major breadwinner has been used to legitimate men’s greater control over the marital purse. But is this financial privilege available to higher-earning wives? ...

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Chapter 5: Calling the Shots: Why Wives Have Limited Decision-Making Power

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pp. 90-117

Earning substantially more money has not helped women bargain successfully for greater equity in the division of domestic labor, or given them greater control over the family’s finances. In fact, the results of the previous chapters speak forcefully for the ability of conventional gendered expectations to disrupt the link between money and power ...

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Chapter 6: Negotiating Identity and Power

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pp. 118-148

The three previous chapters, which examined the straightforward bargain implied by the conventional marital contract, show that higher-earning wives are unable to get the same deal for their incomes that men have historically enjoyed. That is, their money does not buy them substantial relief from domestic labor ...

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Chapter 7: Are They Happy? Managing Tensions and Disappointments

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pp. 149-177

That couples work to preserve the gender boundaries of mothering and breadwinning does not mean that they are blind to the status and income differences between them, or that these differences do not generate a great deal of tension in these relationships. While husbands may find ways to see themselves as providers, ...

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Chapter 8: Floating Along for the Ride: Higher-Earning Wives and the Prospects for Gender Change

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pp. 178-192

While couples with higher-earning wives seem to be moving against the cultural tide, they are not making waves. Though these wives hold tremendous resource advantages over their husbands, they are unable or unwilling to use their incomes to negotiate more egalitarian power relationships in their marriages ...

Appendix A. Questionnaire

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pp. 193-196

Appendix B. Interview Guide

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pp. 197-202

Appendix C. Strategies for Data Analysis

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pp. 203-204


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pp. 205-212


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pp. 213-218

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About the Author

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Veronica Tichenor is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the State University of New York–Institute of Technology. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Marriage and the Family and Sex Roles. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780813537887
E-ISBN-10: 0813537886
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813536781

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2005