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'I'm Not Your Wife!:' A New Study Points to a Hidden Form of Sexism

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy
June 5, 2012


On a flight years ago from Washington, D.C., to South Carolina to cover the 2000 presidential primary, a clean-cut gentleman with a suit but no tie interrupted my reading of the New York Times to ask a question.

"Are you reading that paper?" he asked, as I sat fully engrossed in some or another A-section story.

I paused and put down my Times. "Yes, I am," I answered slowly. "Why? Did you want part of a section?"

"Oh, no," he said in a tone of good-natured curiosity. "It's just that my wife only reads our paper for the furniture advertisements."

I relegated this story to a file of entertaining tales that women trot out occasionally amongst themselves to illustrate the ongoing battle of professional perception. Another standout moment came at a Harvard Business School scholarship dinner after I thanked a distinguished alumnus for supporting academic achievement and he answered by asking me how old I was. When I told him 32, he leaned over and generously advised, "Well, you better hurry up and get married because you don't have much time left."

But a research paper titled "Marriage Structure and Resistance to the Gender Revolution in the Workplace" recently made me revisit my pile of anecdotes.

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