Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Girls don't like boys girls like cars and money - or this one is where the women take over Mars

There's been a lot of talk in the media lately about the changing roles of men and women in the home. It all seemingly stemmed from this Atlantic article gloomily called "The End of Men". Basically, with this latest economic downturn, outsourcing and these modern times we live in where men and women compete equally in the job market, men have lost a lot of jobs. In fact, there are more women in the workforce than men for the first time in US history. Also, more women go to college (and finish) than men...and there are now more female PhD candidates than men. Women are fast approaching equal pay and status and even entering fields traditionally thought to be male oriented such as technology and the sciences. In my own profession, PR, it is overwhelmingly female (85%...In 1970 it was only 30% female). Men still seem to dominate management roles, but with my generation coming up and assuming more managerial roles that number is also dwindling. In a recent survey, participant couples trying to conceive were asked which gender they preferred for their baby if they could choose; an overwhelming amount of respondents (75%) said they preferred a little girl.

This is a major shift. Major. In my mother's generation, women did not think of working outside the home. If they went to college it was most commonly to find a husband. Most who entered did not graduate because they got married and to them that meant they could quit. Women were expected to stay home. Especially if they had children. Men were the breadwinners. Women were the caretakers of children and home life.

Women these days earn more, do more, get married later...and some have figured out that if they never get married or have children they'll go a lot further in life. It's a shocking discovery. Women with kids don't tend to succeed as well as women without them. Thank you birth control  and women's lib(?)

The flip side of this is making the choice to possibly not have children in order to buy more things at Anthropologie. Also, birth control. What they don't teach you in sex ed is all the dangerous side effects from prolonged use, kids. And then there are the risk factors to not having conceived at all such as higher risk for breast and cervical cancer and heart disease. Also, a number of studies show men who marry women who earn significantly more than them are more apt to cheat (note: the same is true if the guy earns a significant amount of money, however). Oh, and then there's zero replication of yourself. That's a toughie. Most, but not all, women I know would like children someday.

I wonder how men feel about all this. I wonder if they are willing to hand over the purse strings and forego children so their women can succeed. Yes, yes, women can first have the kids and then the men can take care of them but there's medical and emotional downtime for a woman for this and it does not help her career any with that factored in. Also, the wife now controls the money. There's this thing called male ego. Yes, it most definitely exists. I wonder how that shapes the family unit. Also, in 80% of divorce cases, it is the woman who wants the divorce. With her earning the dough and without fear of how to support herself and her children it makes it that much easier to leave a spouse she is dissatisfied with. How will this affect men?

You know what else I wonder? Why aren't men going to college as much anymore? Why aren't they graduating? What are they doing with their time? Why aren't they succeeding? The women are outshining men in every way possible. Does this affect them? Have they even noticed this is happening? Would they rather stay with the kids or would they rather have a profession? And if a profession, why aren't they out there in the workforce like they used to be. What happened?

1 comment:

mj said...

I said I wasn't reading blogs anymore, but I lied. You raise some good questions re: what has happened to the men? I think part of the answer may be the types of jobs men have v. women. So obviously there's whole fields like construction and auto mechanics that are still heavily male and that don't require a college degree. And then within technology, women are more likely to be project managers and in communications (almost always requiring a 4 year degree), while men are more likely to be the programmers. Oddly enough programmers don't always need a computer science degree. A couple courses and being a quick study on-the-job serves you better.

On a related note I think Atlantic Monthly has really cheapened in the last few years. I just barely let me subscription lapse b/c it's so darn sensationalistic these days. I guess they are provocative or something, but mostly they provoke me to hurl. I read that article and it was fine and had some interesting studies within it (like the one you pointed out about gender preference) but "the end of men" is just about as ridiculous as the end of women would be. There is actually an Atlantic hanging out on my messy office floor with the cover story "Did Christianity Cause the Crash?" I feel like saying "Give me a break, Atlantic, and stop pretending to be relevant." That may be a wee bit harsh.

Mostly I think it is awesome that women have so many choices these days. There is also less stigma to being a SAHM. I think a lot of people have figured out that staying home with the kids is harder than most jobs (definitely harder than my last full time job). Of course with so many choices it gets harder to decide...

I'm sure there's more to say on this topic, but I gotta go. Interesting!