- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The glass ceiling has been shattered. Now society must pick up the pace to accommodate the needs of the changing family and workplace.

Today, half of all workers in the U.S. are women. For the first time, a woman is the primary or co-breadwinner in two-thirds of American families. More women also are single, and their collective power and shifting needs are affecting every institution in American life, according to the Shriver Report, a sweeping study by the liberal Center for American Progress, which looks at changing roles affecting workers and their families.

It contends that many institutions, including government, business, faith and education, haven’t kept pace as family demographics have become more complex.

“Basic labor standards and the social insurance system are based on supporting ‘traditional’ families, in which the husband works and the wife stays home to care for children,” said the comprehensive study led by former journalist and California first lady Maria Shriver.

Its researchers seek an updated national conversation that addresses new needs related to day care, eldercare, equitable pay, family leave and job demands.

“We’ve come a long way, but not far enough,” said Ann O’Leary, the study’s co-author, who is a senior fellow at CAP and executive director of the Berkeley Center for Health, Economic & Family Security at the University of California Berkeley School of Law.

Miss O’Leary called on government and businesses to step up and help workers through updated labor standards and laws that are comprehensive enough to meet the emerging needs of both men and women.

The study included a poll that provided insights on the perceptions of men and women and work life along with statistics on the changing nature of families.

Among the poll’s key findings:

• 70 percent of men are comfortable with women working outside the home.

• 80 percent of men and women agree that businesses that fail to adapt to the needs of modern families risk losing good workers.

• 40 percent of children born in 2007 - more than 1.5 million children - had mothers who were unmarried.

• 63 percent of men reported they were less interested than in years past in playing what was described as a “macho” role.

• Men have lost seven of every 10 jobs lost in the recession.

• Women earn half of all graduate degrees and are now more likely than men to graduate from college. Women run more than 10 million businesses, with annual sales of $1.1 trillion, and make 80 percent of all consumer buying decisions.

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