- The Washington Times
Friday, September 26, 2008

Talk of sex and power is not confined to the political realm alone these days. Research released Thursday suggests the nation should brace for more findings on such matters.

“They say it’s a man’s world. But in the typical American family, it’s the woman who wears the pantsuit,” said Rich Morin and D’Vera Cohn, two analysts with the Pew Research Center who have numbers to back up their claim.

They found that among 43 percent of American couples, the woman makes more decisions about finances, weekend activities, home purchases and choice of television programs. Husbands, in fact, hold sway in only about a quarter of the couples, with 31 percent splitting the decision-making between husband and wife.

The researchers based their conclusions on a survey of 2,250 adults.

Salary doesn’t always rule, either. Even if a man makes more money, it is no guarantee he rules the roost. In couples where the man earns more, women still are more likely to make the decisions, 42 percent to 30 percent.

The survey offered some promise of future harmony, revealing that couples older than 65 make more of their decisions together, twice the rate of couples younger than 30.

The research also found that Americans have a distinct taste for traditional sex roles in some professions. They tend to prefer their teachers, bankers and family physicians to be female, their law enforcement officers, surgeons and airline pilots to be male.

Pressed for answers, 59 percent said they favored a female elementary school teacher, compared with 9 percent who preferred a male teacher. But almost half - 46 percent - wanted a male police officer, while 15 percent favored a female officer.

The doctor’s office presented a more even playing field. Twenty-eight percent wanted a male family practitioner, 29 percent a female - while 42 percent said the sexes did equally well. In the operating room, a third wanted a male surgeon, 11 percent a female - and 54 percent said the sex didn’t matter.

The term “fly boy” still applies in the airlines, perhaps. Forty-one percent wanted a man in the cockpit, 6 percent wanted a woman; half said the abilities of the sexes were the same.

Other research has explored differences between the sexes in the past year.

Women don’t automatically vote for female candidates, says an analysis of National Election Study data released by the University of Wisconsin earlier this year. Meanwhile, men are more vengeful and have a harder time forgiving than women, according to research from Case Western Reserve University psychologists.

But it’s harder for women to work for a female boss, at least according to a University of Toronto sociology study that found women working under a lone female supervisor reported more distress and physical symptoms than those with a male supervisor.

“Sexism Pays” is the title of research released Sept. 22 by the University of Florida.

“When it comes to sex roles in society, what you think may affect what you earn. A new study has found that men who believe in traditional roles for women earn more money than men who don’t, and women with more egalitarian views don’t make much more than women with a more traditional outlook,” the study said.

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