Although this change is noticeable and indicates that Australia is edging towards greater gender equality in work and family, this balance is not in proportion in either sphere and appears to result in women taking on more responsibility in both domains, this 'double shift' is quickly becoming the norm.
There have been major changes in working life since industrialism penetrated Australia. One of the initial main changes has been a shift in attitudes towards work. In pre industrial societies the attitudes of workers towards their task was significantly different to that of modern day. Early societies displayed attitudes that reflected the Protestant ethic. Workers had a holistic view of their role, they believed that work was necessary to achieve harmony between mind/body and the external world, thus, they needed work to feel complete (Carroll, 1998:13-15). Workers were able to derive immense pleasure and satisfaction from their working life. Industrialism however, changed that work ethic and it was replaced by the modern work ethic where workers cannot always immediately see the fruits of their labor and therefore are alienated from it (Sennett, 1998:99). Work in contemporary times is valued mainly for its economic benefits and the fact that it enables leisure activity and family life. Family life has also experienced a change in attitudes towards assumptions about love and what it means to be part of a family.
The marriage was once seen as necessary for procreation and to regulate sexual behavior, but ideals about modern marriages and intimate relationships have transformed and this is reflected in the make up of those relationships and family composition. Notions of the 'pure relationship' and 'confluent love' are now the norm. In the pure relationship intimacy is the only premise, as soon as intimacy subsides the relationship is abandoned and the parties move on to form new relationships. Confluent love recognizes that preconceived notion of 'forever', 'happily ever after' and 'falling in love' do not always lead to life long partnerships (Giddens, 1992: 58-63). Increasing divorce rates, around 20% of all sole parent households are the result of marriage failure (Birrell, 2000:41), mean that the traditional nuclear family is eroding as parents adjust to changes in attitudes, legal framework and the growth of individualism. Legal recognition of de facto relationships and partial social (but not political or legal) acceptance of alternative lifestyle choices are all reasons why family life has changed and like work, continually reinvents itself. These changes in attitudes appear to have facilitated some gender equality in the balance between work and family life on an ideological level. Yet, on a practical level gender inequality in work and family life continues to be a prominent feature of Australian society.
This is reflected in the occupational and family structure and composition. Australia recorded a significant shift from traditional industries, such as agriculture. In 1911 farming comprised 13.5%