Please meet Gail Diggs and Jane Page Thompson, two of the local female breadwinners

by jovan1984

Gail Diggs
Jane Page Thompson

AIKEN — You may remember Megyn Kelly shredding two of her male co-anchors at Fox News into pieces over their sexist remarks about female breadwinners (final item in the May 31 News Briefs, video and first item in The Frisky’s Lady News for the same day).

Well. Please meet Gail Diggs and Jane Page Thompson, two female breadwinners in the area.

Ms. Diggs has two daughters, Brittany Diggs and Samone Diggs. She is now divorced.

She works at the Margaret Weston Medical Center in Clearwater and is also a member of the Aiken City Council.

“You expect for a marriage to last forever and it just does not always go that way,” said Ms. Diggs.

Alas, it doesn’t. Sometimes, health problems such as a brief (or extended) illness can also end a marriage permanently as the spouse dies from the illness either suddenly or eventually. Also, divorce, as was previously mentioned.

Ms. Diggs role model was her mother. Her father was killed at a young age for both her and him. Ms. Diggs has outlived her father.

Her mother took care of Ms. Diggs and five others.

“I watched my mom do it with six of us,” said Ms. Diggs. “My mom was determined that even though there were six of us, she was not going to give up. She was going to take care of us.”

Watching her mother go to work every day taught her a lesson she never forgotten to this day.

“What I saw in my mom made a great impact on me,” said Ms. Diggs. “She had the best work ethic. She worked as long as she could. She worked when she was sick and she worked when she was well, but she just believed that you should always get up and go to work.”

“Through it all, remembering how my mom did it and knowing if she could do it with six, I could do it with two,” added Ms. Diggs.

There was three things she relied upon.

“I relied on three things: my faith, my family and my friends.”

Two-fifths of all women who children are breadwinners, according to a Pew Research poll (the second item in The Frisky’s Lady News for May 29).

That same poll also pointed out that 14 out of every 25 working mothers say juggling family and work is difficult.

Ms. Diggs tries to do just that.

“My daughters were very involved in so many extra-curricular activities when they were in school. For me to make sure that I was always there was important because I was the only parent,” said Ms. Diggs. “Even if I could not stay for her practice, I would drop her off and I may go do a presentation somewhere else but I would go back to get her and I would usually catch the tail-end of practice.”

For, Mrs. Thompson, gender roles are archaic and outdated.

She is married to Mark Thompson, a horseback rider and trainer. Like Ms. Diggs, Mrs. Thompson is the primary provider for her household.

Mrs. Thompson’s situation is one that is becoming more common real fast; she is one of a large number of women whose earnings outpace that of their husbands.

Nearly 19 in every 50 women, children notwithstanding, make more than their husbands or boyfriends. That is up from 1 in every 9 in the 1960s.

Research also shows the rise of female breadwinners is being driven mostly by demographic changes, including higher rates of education and labor force participation.

The economy, which is dubbed the man-cession in some circles, also plays a role — not minor, however. While the highway sign and road construction industry have flourished and stayed above water, other manufacturing and construction jobs have taken massive losses. Men are predominantly the employees and employers in those two industries.

The Thompsons were planning to have children until unforeseen circumstances took place.

“Within the first five years of our marriage, he had a heart attack, a terrible horse accident and then brain surgery,” said Mrs. Thompson. “Medically, more than anything, required him to take a big step back from work.”

As both parties bring something unique to the union, Mrs. Thompson says that it does not matter who makes more.

“There are some things he just naturally does better than I do,” said Mrs. Thompson. “My husband is much better at doing the laundry than I am.”

She adds that her career provides her with much-needed knowledge regarding the cost of maintaining a home.

“Being in real estate, I have a really good perspective of the value of domestic work,” said Mrs. Thompson. “In my profession, I know the dollar amount that cleaning the house and cleaning the yard has.”

Single-gender boarding school and women-only college is what Mrs. Thompson credits for her views on financial responsibilities.

“I was educated to be a female who could take care of herself,” said Mrs. Thompson. “My education was fiercely devoted to making me be an independent, contributing person to society other than being a mother and a wife.”

Being the primary provider for the family has its difficulties, according to Mrs. Thompson.

“It is a lot more stressful,” said Mrs. Thompson. “I always feel like I am letting him down if something goes wrong. I am in a business that is commission based, so it adds a lot more stress when you are trying to set a family budget.”

Having a positive role model helped pave the way for Mrs. Thompson.

Like, Ms. Diggs, Mrs. Thompson said that her mother was her role model.

“My role model was my mom,” said Mrs. Thompson. “My mother was a single mom and she went to law school. She had this very fierce independence and did not settle for the ‘I don’t know.’ You go research and find the answer.”

The two overall contributing factors in Mrs. Thompson’s life were her mother and her education. The two sources helped breed independence in her life.

Mrs. Thompson said, “Whether you are a male or a female, I think being the responsible party of other people’s lives in a household or having obligations to live up to is difficult.”

This rise has basically either eliminated the gender roles altogether or flipped them, according to Dr. Laura May, an associate professor of psychology at South Carolina-Aiken.

“It is customary for the husband to be the primary breadwinner,” said Dr. May.

According to Dr. May, “it may come down to the individual couple. As long as both partners in the couple are fine with this, then there are no relational issues.”

The same Pew survey finds that the “public remains of two minds about the gains mothers have made in the workplace – most recognize the clear economic benefits to families, but many voice concerns about the toll that having a working mother may take on children or even marriage. About three-quarters of adults say the increasing number of women working for pay has made it harder for parents to raise children, and half say that it has made marriages harder to succeed. At the same time, two-thirds say it has made it easier for families to live comfortably,” according to the center’s website.

NOTE: The ban on the Aiken Standard as a source was temporarily lifted since they were the only ones reporting on this story.

[Aiken Standard]