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E. The 'Mr. Mom' Concept is Not So New

Narrator: This is Science Today. Even in today's changing workforce, the concept of a husband taking a larger role in household chores or childcare is considered a rarity. But according to sociologist Scott Coltrane of the University of California, Riverside, the concept of husbands and fathers cooperating more in the household economy goes back a century ago.

Coltrane: When most people lived on farms, we did not have women who worked out of the labor force, they were actually very much in the labor force. The labor force was actually the household economy. So women were doing the sorts of things that produced valuable goods and services and resources and they did this cooperatively. Men were not uninvolved in the raising of kids.

Narrator: Coltrane says many people forget this because so many social scientists used the 1950s as a benchmark for the behavior of men and women.

Coltrane: Now unfortunately, the 1950s were anomaly. That's when we had a big move to the suburbs, stay at home wives, women not staying in the labor force or even entering the labor force for the first time, early age at marriage. All those trends were actually being reversed - we're actually getting back to patterns of a century ago.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.