Despite the debated statistic that, on average, full-time working women earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, the wage gap does not appear to be keeping a growing number of women from earning breadwinner status in their families. A recent USA TODAY analysis of Census Bureau data reveals, “a revolution in the traditional roles of men and women that extends from college campuses to the workplace to the neighborhoods across this nation.”

According to the analysis, “wives outearn their husbands 28% of the time when both work, up from 16% 25 years ago. This means the wife is bringing home the bacon — or at least more bacon than her husband — in more than 12 million American families.”

Just as telling is what the report says about households where one spouse works full-time and the other stays home. “It’s the wife who is the sole breadwinner in a record 23% of families. When the Census started tracking this in 1976, the number was 6%.”

Man doing houseworkTo find out what this means in everyday life, USA TODAY interviewed a dozen female breadwinners and many of their spouses about the role reversal and how it’s working. Several themes emerged:

Education. In nearly every case, the woman is better educated than the man.

Parenting. The role reversal has freed moms who prefer to work and dads who like to nurture.

Health insurance. Professional women generally have this precious commodity.

The USA TODAY article that reported the analysis includes interviews with real-life couples living this role reversal. Read their candid and eye-opening accounts here.

Paycheck Fairness Act

In his February 12, 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama urged Congress to enact legislation ensuring that men and women receive equal pay for equal work.

“I ask this Congress to declare that women should earn a living equal to their efforts, and finally pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year,” Obama said, referring to the bill blocked by Senate Republicans in June 2012.

Given the USA TODAY findings and this emerging trend of more women being the breadwinners in their families, imagine the theoretical impact the passing of the Paycheck Fairness Act would have on the financial health of families operating in this role reversal mode.