There is a new saying, “Men are the new ball and chain.” It’s interesting to see change from generation to generation, particularly the dynamic shift of gender power. According to journalist Hanna Rosin, men were once the breadwinners of the family. Now, women fill that role. Rosin suggests the Great Recession has taken a lot of men out of the running. Three-quarters of the eight million jobs lost were lost by men.
Is the “rise of women” happening due to economic woes or rapid cultural progression? Rosin believes the rise of women in the 1920s and 1960s happened because women fostered “passion” behind equal rights, better opportunities and an intelligent, successful image. Now, women are rising naturally because they are adapting to this economy better than men. Education seems to be the key.
It begins with less competitive boys in the classroom, what some theorists call “the boy crisis.” Very young boys do worse in school than girls. Some theories suggest boys need to do hands-on work, while girls tend to do more verbal exercises, which are the focus of today’s middle school curriculum.
More girls are going to college than boys, and in the United States only two men receive college degrees for every three women who do. Because women are getting college degrees at a faster rate than men, women outnumbered men in the workplace for the first time in 2010, according to Rosin’s study.
It’s not just in the U.S. that this is happening. In India, women are learning English faster than their male counterparts in order to staff new call centers opening up all over the country. In China, women are starting small businesses faster than men, while men tend to occupy the big business sectors. In South Korea, families prefer female babies to male babies. Decades earlier, female babies were killed until a male heir was born.
This is partially due to current economic conditions. Women are better at acquiring a certain set of skills than men. Fostering creativity, team building and solving problems in the workplace are just certain skills that women can handle better than men. Thus, women are starting to flood professional fields. They are doctors, lawyers, accountants and bankers. They hold more than half of all managerial and professional jobs. They dominate all but two of the professions projected to grow the fastest in the next 15 years (excluding janitors and computer programmers).
This seeming economic shift indicates a cultural movement as well. In American fertility clinics, 75 percent of couples are requesting girls instead of boys. Television shows such as Parenthood and Desperate Housewives promote the stay-at-home dad. Women can even have families without men if they so please. Rosin calls this “the end of men.”
Is this positive for women? Men are losing jobs, but women are gaining the burdens of new responsibilities and a tougher workload. While I love to see women making a name for themselves in the workplace, I’m not sure if I’m ready to adapt to an economy completely run by a female workforce. As Rosin concludes her study, she says it’s important to be the boss but you’ll go nowhere if you don’t take the men with you.