Did you catch that front page article in the New York Times about Wall Street mothers and their stay-at-home husbands? The article made a big fuss about the arrangement—like it’s something wild and radical.

But isn’t that the oldest trick in the book? I thought everyone knew that having someone back on the home front is the secret to success. Isn’t that the primary reason men have always had-it-all (or at least more)?

From what I’ve seen, it’s not an unknown model in Big Law. Yesterday, I wrote about the NYT article for Time’s ideas section, looking at it from the legal profession angle:

You can go to any number of big firms in New York City where there’s a modicum of female partners . . . and the buzz among the associates is that those women in power are either unattached or married to men who stay at home. “They seem to belong to some sort of househusband club,” said one associate about the female partners with kids at Davis Polk & Wardwell.

But the real sticking point is that women in those types of arrangements “didn’t like to talk about it.” As I wrote in Time:
Often, successful women are loath to admit that their husband is really the one minding the home. “He has primary responsibility for the kids, but he also works on the side,” explained one partner about how her husband spends his time. But when pressed about what type of work the husband does, the reply is often vague. “He’s doing consulting” is a popular explanation.
I don’t know if female Wall Streeters are more open about being the breadwinner in the family than their sisters in Big Law. But as I noted in Time, the arrangement “might be more palatable if the wife makes an outrageous amount of money.” In other words, if the wife is an I-banker pulling in gazillions of dollars, maybe everyone will learn to make peace with the gender reversal.

“The problem might be that women lawyers aren’t making enough money to feel they can justify having a househusband,” one female lawyer explained to me. “Making half a million or even $1 million doesn’t compare with what bankers bring home.”
I don’t know whether that means female lawyers can’t afford stay-at-home spouses or that only the super rich have the freedom to break gender stereotypes.
Anyhoo, what do you see at your firm? Do many of the female partners have stay-at-home spouses? And are they cool about it?

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