A wife who earns all or most of her household's income.
They call them the new alpha earners. They are women, they bring home America's bacon and they are set to take over.
Women are beginning to rise steadily to the top in the workplace all over the developed world, but in the US they are forging ahead. New figures show that in almost a third of American households with a working wife, the woman brings home more money than her husband. They are gaining more college degrees and Masters of Business Administration (MBA) qualifications than men and now occupy half the country's 'high-paying, executive, administrative and managerial occupations', compared with 34 per cent 20 years ago. The trend is caused by two main factors, experts say - a growing acceptance of men as househusbands and mass redundancy of male white-collar workers from the technology, finance and media industries in the last three years.
Joanna Walters, "America's alpha career women leave men at the kitchen sink," The Observer, May 18, 2003
Some experts use a new phrase to describe high- income female providers: Alpha Earners. ... [T]o better understand the Alpha Earner phenomenon, some researchers focus instead on those households where the wife outearns the husband. They're crunching the data to eliminate men who are retirees or students, and to seek families where the wife's career appears dominant (by finding, say, households where the wife earns 60 percent or more of the family income). Until the 1990s these numbers were tiny. But University of Maryland demographer Suzanne Bianchi recently began analyzing new 2001 data. Her initial results suggest that 11 percent of marriages feature an Alpha Earner wife. There's probably one in your neighborhood: in the news-week Poll, 54 percent of Americans said they "personally know a couple where the woman is clearly the major wage earner and the man's career is secondary."
Peg Tyre and Daniel McGinn, "She Works, He Doesn't," Newsweek, May 12, 2003
This phrase is curious because it appears to be gender neutral, but by definition it applies only to women. By rights, it seems to me, we should be able to apply this label to anyone man or woman who earns the lion's (or, I guess, lioness's) share of the household income. Further proof that language and logic often refuse to hold hands.