All women execs want is a wife

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This summer, I’m going to embark on an experiment: I’m going to be my own wife. I’m going to stay home from the office. I’m going to puree baby food, walk my older kid to summer camp, maybe even plant a lame vegetable garden. I’m going to sort through our finances, make sense of our cable/Internet/phone plan, fill out all those migrainey forms from the benefits department. Maybe I’ll even finish our 2007 taxes.

It’s really quite simple, says a survey published today by the Families and Work Institute and Catalyst: the reason women who work feel unhinged most of the time is that we don’t have wives. Just 18% of women execs have stay-at-home spouses or partners, a luxury the “majority” of male execs enjoy. That plays out in the things they value most in their careers, says the survey:

The top six things men want in a career:

1. Having a supportive work environment (tied for first)

2. Having a challenging job (tied for first)
3. Being well compensated
4. Having a good fit between life on and off the job
5. Having the opportunity for high achievement
6. Working at a company that has high values

What women want:

1. Having a supportive work environment

2. Having a challenging job
3. Having a good fit between life on and off the job
4. Being well compensated
5. Working at a company that has high values
6. Having the opportunity for high achievement

The survey also reports that

Men for instance were more likely to be in jobs they found challenging, and to say they had a good fit between their life “on and off the job.”

I’m not sure. Most men today are married to women who work, so they’re unlikely to enjoy the benefits of a full-time, stay-at-home spouse, either. And while the wives of highly compensated men may be more likely to stay home, the husbands of highly compensated women are more likely to also work—meaning the latter couple may have more income with which to hire help. I’m not saying the playing field is level. I’m just saying I think it’s more complicated than this survey makes it out to be. What say you?

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