Cato Unbound offers some interesting insight into what it calls “The New Girl Order”, the rising incidences of women now outnumbering and outperforming men in education and careers, and generally faring better than men. Men are falling behind, it says.
It’s a fascinating article detailing the ways women have succeeded in exceeding men in education, community involvement, and various other areas of life. It’s a very quick and worthwhile read.
But as nice as it is to hear statistics about women’s empowerment and successes, and while we shouldn’t discount them—we absolutely have come a long way from the early days of the women’s rights movement—there’s a major caveat this author fails to mention. It is: We’re still so far from equality.
If we hold the majority of college degrees, as well as increased our average earnings steadily for decades, why are we still earning less? A few of the response essays to the article bring up these types of questions and inconsistencies, and they’re worth a read as well. (They are: “Sure, Men Have It Rough. But Let’s Not Forget about the Women.” “The Old Boys’ Club Lives On.” “Don’t Blame Women’s Workplace Successes for Men’s Problems.”)
I also wish the author would have touched on an integral point to inequality that she just skipped over: this “new rule” of women dominating applies to younger, childless women.
The second and related theory about why men are falling behind has it that today’s labor market prizes female strengths more than male strengths. The manufacturing economy, the one that ironically gave women the household revolution that helped to liberate them, relied on physical strength and endurance . . . Good jobs today are another breed. They rely on traits like organizational and planning skills, aesthetic awareness, an ability to collaborate, and what are called “people skills.” . . . Whether these qualities are innately feminine, culturally taught, or some combination doesn’t really matter for the purposes of this argument. The point is that today, with the important exception of the technical and financial sector, younger women (that is, childless women, an important caveat) have shown they can easily be men’s equals, and possibly even their superiors, in the knowledge economy.
However, all of these statistics do give us hope for the future. While we still do not receive the same legitimacy as men do in the workplace, maybe the fact that we are churning out well educated, motivated, and uncompromising women now will change that in the future. (Shout out to Iowa N.E.W. Leadership!) A 23-year old college graduate, male or female, typically wouldn’t be a CEO, CFO, or board member of a major organization anyway. But in 20 years from now…
That’s my hope at least. What’s yours?