July 19, 2010

Is it really The End of Men?

In the July/August issue of the Atlantic Magazine, a very interesting article asks if we are approaching The End of Men, a time in history where men are simply becoming less relevant than women. The opening paragraph of the article by Hanna Rosin lays out the premise this way:

Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women’s progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn’t the end point? What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women?

While men aren't likely to go away, the author believes evidence of the cultural devaluing of men is indicated by the following:

  • Since the 90's, some fertility clinics are reporting a 2 to 1 parental preference for girls, decisions largely being driven by women. Quoting a demographer, in Asia preference for a male child is also over.
  • Globally, the growing number of women in positions of power. Rosin quotes the work of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and their Gender, Institutions and Development Database. It claims to measure the economic and political power of women in 162 countries. With few exceptions, OECD says the greater the power of women, the greater the country’s economic success.

  • Women are graduating from college and professional schools in greater numbers than men—for every two men who will receive a B.A. this year, three women will do the same.

  • The rate at which the number of women are showing up in professional roles. Rosin quotes Bureau of Labor Statistics data saying,  . . . women now hold 51.4 percent of managerial and professional jobs—up from 26.1 percent in 1980. They make up 54 percent of all accountants and hold about half of all banking and insurance jobs. About a third of America’s physicians are now women, as are 45 percent of associates in law firms—and both those percentages are rising fast.

  • Today's leadership styles no longer emphasize a militaristic, command and control approach, but now favor, sensitive leadership and social intelligence, including better reading of facial expressions and body language. The author suggests perhaps this shift increasingly favors feminine relational/leadership styles.
  • The decline of industrial and finance industries which traditionally employed more men, and the growth of the types of business that favor women. Rosin states, Of the 15 job categories projected to grow the most in the next decade in the U.S., all but two are occupied primarily by women.

  •  The problem of men absent in droves as fathers and role models for young boys.

There is much more in the article, but you are getting the idea. In the same issue of Atlantic there is another article titled, Are Fathers Necessary?. In that article the author, Pamela Paul focuses research from the February issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family, by  Judith Stacey, a professor of sociology at New York University, and Timothy Biblarz, a demographer from the University of Southern California. The point of their research is that successful parenting is not at all about the gender of the parents, but the quality of parenting. As a result, Ms. Paul indicates in spite of cherished notions of two-parent families, it just may be possible that fathers aren't necessary.
    While I do think these authors have stretched the data some to make their points, it does feel a bit to me like the old story of the miner's canary. I can't argue that in the world of men, the bird is a little frail. Men have some work to do . . . and from where I sit, it's underway. But the goal, I believe, is not to fight our way back into authority, rather to help build a world where it's not about gender ups and downs at all. To co-create a world where equality of all kinds is the norm, and everyone is celebrated for their gifts and given opportunities to express their unique talents.

    I recommend you read these two articles and then use the comment feature at the end of the post to tell us what you think? 

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    1. David Stewart10:01 AM

      Earl - Thank you for this. I have many opinions (OK: convictions) about this topic, but will touch on just a few.

      The article's title is of course dramatic/provocative, and the real question seems to be: what is the emerging relationship of men & power? Is this now an era where our fundamental assumption about a man's path through the world -- that it is an experiment in power -- is undergoing a huge shift? Further, could it be that men actually have a more fulfilling purpose than that -- one of being the carriers of heart and compassion?

      Books such as "Unplugging the Patriarchy" are affirming just such a role-reversal. It's not just about gender, of course -- feminine and masculine qualities are in all humans -- but there is a strong call for this transformation, as part of a re-balancing, of partnership, and not about a new form of oppression.

      I don't mind women being in positions of power, as long as they don't forsake their own female virtues in the process. (As David Deida humorously points out, this de-feminizing is what Hillary did in her presidential campaign, which made her seem so cold and harsh, lacking dimension.)

      I am intensely interested to see if the Power torch will be passed to the women, and further, to find out what life as a man is like without that particular burden of expectation. Imagine: time and space in which to nourish the life of the heart.

    2. Anonymous3:01 PM

      Just in time for this post. Women & Power 2010: Our Time to Lead, a conference dedicated to women of all ages and backgrounds to become the leaders we have been waiting for.


    3. See the counterpoint article, "Don't Write Off Men Just Yet" in today's NY times!(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/22/opinion/22kristof.html)

      I loved the Henry Kissinger quote: Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes. There's too much fraternizing with the enemy."


    Your response to this blog post is appreciated and welcome.