In her article, Lean In, Dad: How Shared Diaper Duty Could Stimulate the Economy, Catherine Rampell makes an economic argument for gender parity in the workforce. She calls for a two-pronged solution that involves both better work-life policies (such as access to parental leave and child care) and a change in social roles. Rampell points to the gaps between capability, educational attainment, and economic engagement that have millions of women underemployed in the United States. She goes on to compare the US to other “developed” nations and illustrates how the stigma attached to the “welfare state” is holding us back:
Such policies contribute to these countries’ swollen welfare states and higher tax burdens, but they do keep women at work. Back in 1990, in a ranking of 22 developed countries, the United States had the 6th-highest share of its prime-working-age women active in the work force. By 2010, it had tumbled to 17th place.
In order to prescribe policies that really allow female workers to “lean in” at work, social scientists are trying to find ones that recast social norms and encourage male workers to “lean in” at home.