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Meet the New Generation of House Husbands Who Support Successful Women

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It’s 2012 and, fittingly, the gender gap in the world of business is shrinking rapidly, according to a Businessweek feature.
Titled “Behind Every Great Woman,” the piece looks at the growing number of husbands who have chosen to stay home to raise children while their wives climbed the corporate ladder.
One couple reversing the traditional gender roles is Ken Gladden and Dawn Lepore. Gladden and Lepore both worked at Charles Schwab (SCHW) when Lepore got promoted to become the first female CIO at the bank in 1994. Gladden later worked at Visa (V) but quit to become a full-time dad while Lepore rose to become’s CEO in 2004 and later oversaw the company’s sale to Walgreen’s (WAG). She is now a consultant to start-ups and a director at eBay (EBAY).
“To do what I’m doing, you’ve got to be able to say, ‘My wife’s the breadwinner, the more powerful one,’ and be OK with that. But you also need your own interests,” Gladden, who eventually started a home-based software development company, told Businessweek.
Lepore wishes her “biggest supporter” would get more recognition for everything he does at home. When an executive recently told her “having an at-home husband makes it easy for you to be a CEO,” she responded, “no, not easy. He makes it possible.” Lepore advises younger women to “choose your spouse carefully. If you want a top job, you need a husband who isn’t self-involved and will support your success,” even if you go further than him. There are tradeoffs, she warns, “I’ve missed so much with my kids—school plays, recitals, just seeing them every day.”
Other top high-powered female corporate executives who have had loving husbands at some point in time include former Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) CEO Carly Fiorina, whose husband Frank Fiorina exited AT&T (T) early to help with the family, and Fortune 500 CEOs like Xerox’s (XRX) Ursula Burns, PepsiCo’s (PEP) Indra Nooyi, and WellPoint’s (WLP) Angela Braly and Dow Jones component (^DJI) IBM’s (IBM) new CEO, Ginni Rometty, whose husband scaled back his career ambitions to help achieve hers.
Chances are Ken Gladden and the rest of the new breed of house husbands, who ostensibly take over grocery shopping duties, have contributed to the emergence of men as a sizable supermarket-going demographic, such that stores like Walmart (WMT) and Target (TGT) have taken noticed and will launch ‘man aisles’ targeted specially at them.
It has to be said that seven out of the 18 Fortune 500 female CEOs having stay-at-home husbands does not establish a larger trend, but given that the economic crisis has disproportionately affected male-dominated industries like construction and manufacturing, we can only expect the number of house husbands and (by extension) male grocery shoppers to rise for the foreseeable future.
(See also: Behold the Rise of the Male Grocery Shopper)
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.