Women Call the Shots at Home; Public Mixed on Gender Roles in Jobs

  • September 25, 2008
  • By Rich Morin and D'Vera Cohn

They say it's a man's world. But in the typical American family, it's the woman who wears the pantsuit.

To explore decision-making in the typical American home, a Pew Research Center survey asked men and women living in couples which one generally makes the decisions in four familiar areas of domestic life. Who decides what you do together on the weekend? Who manages the household finances? Who makes the decisions on big purchases for the home? And who most often decides what to watch on television?

The survey finds that in 43% of all couples it's the woman who makes decisions in more areas than the man. By contrast, men make more of the decisions in only about a quarter (26%) of all couples. And about three-in-ten couples (31%) split decision-making responsibilities equally.

On a different topic related to gender and power, the survey asked whether people are more comfortable dealing with a man or with a woman in a variety of positions of authority - doctor, banker, lawyer, police officer, airline pilot, school teacher and surgeon.

Take the "Who Decides?" Couples Quiz on the Pew Research Center's Social and Demographic Trends Project Web site.

Read the full report Women Call the Shots at Home; Public Mixed on Gender Roles in Jobs.