A study released in July by the Brookings Institution found that nearly 40 percent of women who head households that have an average annual income of $14,000—households in the bottom third of U.S. income distribution—said they don’t work because they need to take care of their home or family. In fact, this was the reason poor women gave most frequently for not working, followed by a fifth of those surveyed who said they couldn’t find work. (Poor men said they weren’t employed for different reasons. Nearly a third said their job searches had been unsuccessful, followed by just over a fifth who said they were ill or disabled.)
Poor women’s concerns get a nod, albeit parenthetically, in the Times story. Of the wealthier women who are her article’s focus, Warner writes of their choice a decade ago, “They were a small demographic to be sure (another, larger, group who left the work force at that time — poor mothers who couldn’t afford child care — went without notice), but they garnered a great deal of media attention.” Of the story’s nearly 6,500 words, poor and low-income women’s lives get 21.
Bitch Magazine continues the discussion of poor women that the Times dedicated just a parenthetical aside to when it comes to “opting out,” noting that women from low-income households often don’t work because they have to take care of their homes and families—doing the kind of housework that Selma James has called “unwaged work,” which supports the greater workforce as a whole.