There are two reasons why women in the labor force is an issue at all. Since the dawn of man, women have been more than capable of raising children while doing the labor required for survival, housing, creating textiles and even working away from the home. At some point, it was forcibly imposed on humanity that women should be confined to the roles of managing the home and the children. In the worst of situations, women are viewed, not as humans or as partners in the nuclear family, but as chattel, slaves or livestock.
Queen Boudica raised her children and gave the vast Roman empire a run for its money. Biddy Mason, a slave, led her children, her owners and a herd of livestock across country, then settled in Southern California to become a nurse, a philanthropist and a landowner. Queen Elizabeth worked as an auto mechanic in WWII.
The first reason why women are such a controversial part of the work force lies in the assumption that women do not need to work outside of the home, simply because that is the job and right of men. Nothing of merit is said when the male dies, leaves, works at home, works irregular hours or is incapacitated, leaving the household in grinding poverty.
It is simply decided that the role of the male is to not care for the children or home, while it is the role of the woman to care for the children and home.
Fortunately, many women continued to ignore those rules completely. Since WWII, when women were needed in the workforce, a major change occurred in the ability, opportunities and desire of women to do more than work, but to also have careers, educations, and their own retirement funds. During the civil rights movement, women demanded equal opportunity and treatment. At the turn of the century, many women had broken through most, if not many barriers with the same, if not greater accomplishments than men.
Women began to develop mindsets that were oriented more to work than to home and to apply them, along with other special qualities such as attention to detail, creativity, focus and perseverance, to their jobs.
The development of formalized, regulated, higher quality, more widely available and cheaper child care led to opportunities for women to work full time away from home and to work toward careers that would give them their own livable income, assets, medical care, and retirement that was independent of the child’s father’s income and retirement.
Child care led to far less poverty among women and children, who previously were dependent upon alimony, death settlements, or child support payments that may never have been paid. Another breakthrough: far more aggressive collections of child support payments, regardless of the gender of the custodial parent, allowed for better and more consistent child care which was a good investment, since a steady job that led to a higher paying career would bring in more money to the household.
There is now intractable and great resistance to imposing standards of women having the sole responsibility for child care that has even led to single fathers being the sole providers and custodial parents of their children. In many court decisions, the mother is actually required to go out and to find a job, rather than remaining completely dependent upon the ex-husband for income. Those who were accused by Ronald Reagan of being “Welfare Queens” actually wanted to go to work, and when they were provided with opportunity through the Clinton era welfare to work programs, many did go to work and engage in careers that led them, over time, out of poverty and dependency.
In summary, the issue of “women in the labor force” is primarily a ploy by those who want to impose or to direct a singular and limited role for women, using child care and religion as the major tools of manipulation. The fact is that many women will never have the desire or the opportunity to have a fixed and limited standard of living that does not allow them to work outside of the home. Also, women have always had vastly more capability to do both than political, religious and social arguments will ever admit to.
Thus, there is great harm to humanity that comes from attempts to restrict the opportunities that women can pursue. If anything ever happens to a society. A weakened, dependent and professionally limited population of women will be the last thing that humanity needs in the event of social upheaval, natural and other disasters and war.