(CNN) – Amid the conversation that re-emerged last week surrounding the role of women in society after a controversial comment about Ann Romney, a new survey released Monday showed that most Americans now think the number of women in the workplace is a good thing for children of working mothers, a significant change from attitudes on that topic in the 1980s and 1990s.
The CNN/ORC International poll also indicated that nearly nine in ten Americans approve of mothers of young children working outside the home, even if their husbands can support their families. Six in ten women, including six in ten mothers of children under the age of 18, said they would prefer to have a job outside the home.
Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist and CNN contributor, ignited a firestorm when she questioned Ann Romney's validity in giving her husband, likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, advice on economic issues affecting women, given she had "never worked a day in her life."
An ensuing conversation about women in and out of the home occupied much of the political oxygen in the following days with both sides of the political aisle jockeying for the female vote.
But the new poll demonstrated a large gender gap is still prevalent between Romney and President Barack Obama, who was seen as more in touch with the problems facing women by a two-to-one margin. Women also favored Obama over Romney by 16 percentage points, virtually unchanged from the 18-point edge he held among women in March.
The survey released on Monday, based on interviews taken after Rosen made her comments, showed some Americans are still concerned about the impact working mothers might have on their children, but the level of concern has dropped significantly since the 1980s and 1990s.
In 1986, and again in 1995, only about a quarter said having a mother who worked was a good idea for children. Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed in both years thought it was a bad idea for children to have working mothers.
Although today only a third of those surveyed remained concerned about the effects on children, a 52% majority held a positive view of the impact working mothers have on their children.
The larger question of whether a married woman should work if her husband is able to support her – once an extremely controversial topic – appears to have settled by a nearly unanimous consensus.
In 1938, Gallup found that 78% of Americans opposed a wife working outside the home. That figure dropped in half by the 1970s, but in 1970, 36% still thought it was a bad idea. Even as late as 1997, 17% disagreed with the idea of a wife working outside the home.
Fast forward to 2012 and only 2% of those surveyed disapproved of a married woman working if her husband is capable of supporting her. Six in ten women said they would prefer to have a job outside the home than stay at home and take care of the house and family.
Roughly a third of women said they would prefer to stay at home and take care of their house and family rather than work outside the home.
When asked if men or women have it better in the U.S. currently, both genders agreed men have it better. Sixty-three percent of women said men have it better, while 49% of men agreed.
The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International between April 13 and April 15, with 1,015 adult Americans, including 910 registered voters, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
- CNN's Gabriella Schwarz contributed to this report.