Former Tradwife With 6-Year Resume Gap Shares Struggle Returning to Work

Despite a concerted push for gender equality in a number of countries, a surprising and somewhat contentious trend has surfaced—the “tradwife” movement.

While some Gen Z and Millennial women have embraced a return to sharply defined gender roles, former tradwife Alice Bender has shared how committing to the lifestyle led to her struggling professionally and financially—and in consequence, emotionally.

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Since her recent divorce, Bender, 25, no longer relies on her ex-husband for monetary support. But with a colossal gap in her resume, she is struggling to get back on the career ladder in an increasingly competitive market.

“I would never encourage any woman to do what I have done,” Bender, who is based in Phoenix, told Newsweek. “I have a six-year gap in my resume. I only have an associate degree despite having had the opportunity to complete a four-year degree for free, but giving that up once I got married.

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“I spent many years in isolation and am only now starting to build a support system of friends.”

Alice Bender Talks About Job Search
(From left) Alice Bender, a former tradwife, shares her job search struggle with followers online; and poses for a pregnancy photoshoot. The Arizona-based mom has found it hard to reenter the workforce after “years of…

Alice Bender / @thatveganmomof2

The Tradwife Movement

The phenomenon—one centered around homemaking, caring for children, and in some cases, submitting to husbands—is not a new thing, but the discourse it has led to online is.

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The social media-derived term has been making waves among internet users since the late 2010s. For Gen Z and Millennial tradwives, many of whom live in the U.S., the label refers to “wives” who gladly maintain the home while their husbands make money and hold the purse strings.

While some enjoy such family dynamics, with “occupations” like the “stay-at-home-girlfriend” often trending online, many deem the lifestyle to be gendered, sexist and something archaic, and should be left in the past.

“By tradwife, I mean a woman who completely dedicates herself to her husband and children,” Bender said. “If her husband asks her to give up her college scholarships, and job, to cook him shrimp, then that is what she does.

“That is what I did,” she added.

Bender, who is mother to a 3-year-old and 1-year-old, is now feeling the consequences of her past actions. She shared her plight on social media, where she is known as @thatveganmomof2, on April 29, detailing her struggle to rejoin the workforce after a long hiatus to focus on her marriage.

Viewers were able to see Bender looking into the camera, while an overlaid text read: “How to make up for six years of no job experience, or education, due to being a tradwife at 19.”

To date, her post has been viewed more than 1.8 million times and has led to an outpouring of opinion in the comments section.

“Wait, but I [want to] be a tradwife. I hate the idea of not being around my kids and having to work,” one user, @amazing_jess_, said.

Another, @vulp3sv3lox, added: “Just lie and say you were an in-home nanny [or] housekeeper for that time, use someone you know as a reference number.” Their comment has been liked 27,000-plus times.

“Say you were a content creator or social media manager,” a third user, @is_trying_, said.

Another, @em.krause19, offered: “Get into sales babe, sales will be your vehicle. Literally doesn’t matter what you sell, find an entry level position. They’ll train you.”

“People did offer me support, however, the situation I am in is very sticky,” Bender, who has full custody of her two sons, said. “I have been responsible for providing full-time child care for my two children since my divorce.”

Single mothers who are keen to reenter the workforce, yet cannot find a family member or friend to care for their children free of charge, are often unfairly disadvantaged when it comes to the career ladder.

A 2023 report by The Annie E. Casey Foundation found the average cost of toddler-aged child care in Arizona to be $10,883 for facilities, and $6,253 for home-based care. Two years earlier, had set the average annual cost of child care in the state at $9,748, per year.

The expense of putting her children in day care, if she was to be considered for a full-time job, is a burden that rests on Bender’s shoulders daily. Time is of the essence for the mom too, as the more years that go by, the larger the gap in her resume becomes. Feeling the weight of her teenage decision, Bender wishes that she could turn back the clock.

“If any woman is considering being a tradwife and dedicating herself to a man, I would beg her not to and tell her she is worthy of achieving her own dreams and goals,” she said.

“He probably does not love you like he claims he does, he just wants access to a housekeeper, a live-in-nanny, a landscaper, a sex worker, a fully-stocked fridge and pantry, a personal chef, and so much more that he couldn’t otherwise afford.

“You are looking for a love only you can give yourself,” she added.

Despite Bender’s reservations, some women are proud of their tradwife status, and have turned the lifestyle into a lucrative brand. They can be found applying their stay-at-home girlfriend or tradwife label to their social media content—attracting loyal followers and brand collaborations in the process.

Bender herself now has 608,000 followers on TikTok alone, many of whom followed and stuck around since her viral post from April. Despite the public’s fascination in her tradwife tale, Bender posts more about her newfound independence, hobbies and children than she does about her “years in isolation.”

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