Perhaps you've noticed that's it seems to be lot easier for women to get jobs these days than men. Most of the jobs being "created" today are some sort of cubicle-warming position with "manager," "representative," "associate," "coordinator," or "specialist"in the title. These jobs consist mainly of attending meetings, delegating authority, patiently explaining things to other people, and some form of useless paper shuffling.
The "jobs of the future" are things men simply don't want to do (I know I don't) - things like changing diapers, mopping up vomit, emptying bedpans, drawing blood, taking care of a roomful of children, waiting tables, planning weddings, and so on. Most of the remaining jobs are dead-end "service" jobs, which men, who instinctively compete for status, tend to dislike, as it requires obedience, docility, and a "may I help you" attitude that many men simply don't possess (or affect while internalizing suppressed rage). Not to mention the salaries are abysmal - hard to woo women or start a family earning that kind of money.
The things that men like to do are the ones that have disproportionately been taken over by machines, like manufacturing. The resulting oversupply of male labor (including bottomless unskilled labor from Mexico) has driven male wages down, even for jobs which can't be shipped overseas like pipefitting, landscaping, HVAC installation, auto mechanics and so on. Now, a new wave of automation is coming for things like truck driving, the mainstay of blue-collar males since deindustrialization (check out all those pickup truck ads. What are all those guys doing anyway, and why are they baling hay?). Improvements in auto-production and a shift to electric cars may reduce the need (hopefully) for auto mechanics, oil changers, etc. Those areas that men tend to work in, like building construction, have taken a beating thanks to lack of capital. We can't just go on building more buildings every single year forever - for one, the entire earth would be paved over, for another, we'd run out of materials, and another, we wouldn't even have enough people to put in them, especially if population is declining.
Even the few remaining fields where men have a small numerical edge (science, engineering, mathematics, computer programming, construction), the common lament you always hear is "how do we get more women to get interested in this profession?" WTF? There aren't enough jobs right now for all the men in these professions, and you want to get more women into them? Shouldn't you be more worried about the quantity of jobs rather who is doing them? If a job is getting done, what does it matter if it's a man or a woman doing it?
In general, men prefer movement and action. They like physical things and don't like sitting still for long amounts of time. They are good at focusing on a specific task, but their attention varies, and they are less docile, generally. Many men have less-than-desirable social skills. School is almost perfectly designed to turn men off from learning and education, and our "college for all" culture provides few opportunities for the average man to become a decent, productive member of society (unlike, say Germany with their apprentice systems), instead preferring to lock them up and throw away the key. Non-college jobs are denigrated in American society, attracting people who see themselves as "rejects" for college, and leading to poor-quality service. At the same time, like twenty people all crowding together trying to enter into an elevator at the exact same time, students are encouraged to go to college so they can get "prestigious" jobs that don't exist, and graduate with nothing but debt to show for it.
Women, by contrast, have an easier time sitting behind a desk all day, cooperating, behaving, smiling, and being social, which is what jobs tend to be all about nowadays. I once read someone's opinion that the "women's lib" movement was actively encouraged so that women would enter the workforce en masse, competing against men and driving down salaries. Plus, women were more docile and easier to control - they didn't talk back to their (male) bosses, rock the boat, ask for a raise, or try and outcompete or outshine their (male) bosses. There was a sense that, since women were considered a "second" income, that you could pay them less, and this is probably why women still tend to earn a little less than men in the same positions (although this is greatly exaggerated). It seems believable enough, especially since this seems to be the only mass movement since the War that the oligarchy has not strangled in its crib.
Of course, schools were originally designed to churn out obedient soldiers and factory workers as John Taylor Gatto has so aptly demonstrated. Now that the factory work is gone, they seem to do little more than keep people out of the workforce until they turn 18, and then they can become either prisoners or debt donkeys. But this "sit still, be quiet, behave, do exactly what you're told, stand up and sit down when the bell rings;" type of mentality is inherently easier for girls to go along with. Mass education has only been around for 50-60 years (even before World War Two it wasn't uncommon for people to have only a primary school education, and many of these people were smart as a whip), and that's way too little time for evolution to mold all men and boys into obedient little workers, especially since the previous few million years before that encouraged the behavioral traits I listed above for reproductive success. Thus, I doubt men are simply going to behave as the robots economists use for their models and transform into home health care aides, third-grade teachers, nurses, and so on. I tend to agree that schools treat boys as "defective girls" and try to medicate away the problem:
Being a boy can be a serious liability in today’s classroom. As a group, boys are noisy, rowdy and hard to manage. Many are messy, disorganized and won’t sit still. Young male rambunctiousness, according to a recent study, leads teachers to underestimate their intellectual and academic abilities. “Girl behavior is the gold standard in schools,” says psychologist Michael Thompson. “Boys are treated like defective girls.”What Schools Can Do to Help Boys Succeed (Time)
These “defective girls” are not faring well academically. Compared with girls, boys earn lower grades, win fewer honors and are less likely to go to college. One education expert has quipped that if current trends continue, the last male will graduate from college in 2068. In today’s knowledge-based economy, success in the classroom has never been more crucial to a young person’s life prospects. Women are adapting; men are not.
Lest you think any of the above is an exaggeration, I advise you to check out the following link:
The glass ceiling illustrated in one ‘meet the staff’ web page
This also leads to the loss of class mobility and concentration of wealth, as men now no longer have to compete against just upper-class men, but upper-class women as well. Now members of both genders who are "to the manor born" can hoard opportunities, making sure there's no room for people from the lower classes to rise up the ladder as was more likely in times past. There's only so much room on each level of the pyramid, after all.
At Colleges, Women Are Leaving Men in the Dust (New York Times)
And this has caused the feeding of men's insecurities, especially those of white males. Predictably, these insecurities have given birth to a whole host of "movements," the Tea Party movement, Libertarianism in its varied forms, including the latest Neoreactionary movement (bring back the aristocracy!), the militia movement, the men's rights movement, the "pickup" community, sovereign citizens, survivalists, the NRA (what it's become) and the John Birch Society (which has now captured the entire Republican Party). I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting.
FOX News is specifically designed by its creators to appeal of this fever pitch of anxiety, anger and insecurity. Exhibit A: FOX News propagandists Bill O'Reilly and Brit Hume arguing that the corrupt, obese bully Chris Christie is just "too manly" for a "feminized" culture like the United States. Predictably, Christie's numbers shot up among what is essentially now an aging white male party. Exhibit B - Elizabeth Hasselbeck, one of FOX's endless stable of pulchritudinous, square-jawed, blonde, Aryan Überfrauen, has stated that "wussified" men are now a threat to national security! You can almost cut the anxiety with a knife. Of course, outlets like Rush Limbaugh pioneered revelling in "political incorrectness," depicting opponents of their entire message as "shrill harpies," and themselves as "just one of the guys" chatting in the locker room after the game. "Feminazis" were one of the major targets of him and his clones, and you can see why these types of shows are played on AM radio outlets that used to be known primarily for sports talk radio (blue-collar men listen to radio in the truck or on the job site). There are a whole genre of books about "how to be a real man," and things like "the Man Show" are out there to supposedly define what a man is "supposed to be" (unfortunately, in America that seems to be one particular type of man - loutish, big-mouthed, arrogant, aggressive, sloppy, unintellectual, incurious, and beer-and-sports-obsessed). Note how you didn't see stuff like this forty years ago.
|Presumably, Larry the Cable guy is a "real man" 'cause he's driving a monster truck!|
All of which is prelude to this crunching of some dire data from Matt Yglesias:
Catherine Rampell recently noted that all the net job growth in December was accounted for by women's employment while men gained zero net jobs. Month-to-month numbers can get noisy, and you shouldn't attribute too much significance to net zero as a threshold, but it is true that the labor market in the United States is highly gendered. It's not just a question of various disparities that arise inside particular firms—there are systematic sectoral gaps between what jobs women hold and what jobs men hold. So an economic trend that's bad for construction workers lands very heavily on men, whereas one that's bad for teachers lands very heavily on women.Four Charts Show the Gendered Labor Market (Slate)
Taking the long view, we can see that American women have regained the employment level they were at before the recession. Men, by contrast, have not. The much-hyped "manufacturing rennaissance" is a bit of a myth, and to the extent that it's happened, it hasn't made up for construction job losses. There's a very real male-dominated boom in natural resource extraction jobs, but that sector just doesn't employ that many people.
Younger women were hit by the recession but have also more than recovered their losses. Young men's employment level is way down from where it once was. Optimistically one might hope this represents a surge in young men enrolling in college and learning useful things, but to the best of my knowledge the gender gap in college attendance and graduation continues to favor women.
All told, it's very much an End of Men scenario—with the particularly striking fact being that you see the end of men more strongly in the younger cohorts. The population of people over the age of 55 is both large and growing, so the experience of older people carries a lot of weight in national aggregates. But the younger you look the more you see men's disemployment as a theme. For younger workers we really are slouching toward gender equity—we're just doing it more by men becoming worse off than by women becoming better off.
See also: U.S. Women Last Month Regained All Jobs Lost to the Great Recession; Men Still 2.1 Million Short (September 12, 2013) (IWPR)
And it's likely to get worse:
In the next two decades, 47% of US jobs are at risk of being automated away, an alarming Oxford study found last week.Which workers will survive the robot age? (New York Post)
But computers create as well as destroy jobs: Economist Tyler Cowen points out that an unmanned Predator drone requires 168 workers to keep it in the air for 24 hours, whereas one sortie by an F-16 is backed by fewer than 100 workers. Our economic future will increasingly be a story of those who complement computers. And though it may be counterintuitive to say so, that means big potential upside for women.
Why, when the computer-programming field remains dominated by men? Because women are more conscientious. Women are also more likely to ask for help or acknowledge their limits. Women are more modest, and modesty, it turns out, will be an invaluable trait in the future.
How does this play out in terms of gender? Keep in mind that one of the most common and preventable sources of deadly infections in hospitals is failure to wash hands. One study found that women doctors washed their hands after 88% of patient contact, but for men that figure was 54%. That’s arrogance, a belief that you are such a great medicine man that you couldn’t possibly be ferrying disease.
Changes in higher education will reward superior female conscientiousness. Today college is essentially a four-year vacation from reality for the children of the well-off that produces a valuable credential. But free online universities are turning that model upside down: Within a few years, students who paid nothing for their tuition but crammed intensely and learned much more than the average kid at Party U. will be presenting themselves to employers, who will not fail to notice the new source of talent.
The most conscientious, self-motivated students, regardless of where they came from, will eat the lunch of the kids who didn’t bother to learn a useful skill in college. Cowen points out, “women are more likely to follow instructions and orders with exactness and without resentment. . . . There is plenty of evidence that women are less interested in direct workplace competition and more likely to work well in teams.”
Women have a new word for the masculine tendency to belittle feminine input while asserting expertise they don’t necessarily possess: mansplaining. In an increasingly meritocratic and linked world, mansplaining will prove to be a costly flaw.
“If you’re a young male hothead who just can’t follow orders, and you have your own ideas about how everything should be done,” writes Cowen, “you’re probably going to have an ever-tougher time in the labor markets of the future. There won’t be much room for a ‘rebel without a cause’ or, for that matter, a rebel with a cause.”
Men have already been punished by de-industrialization that values office skills more than physical strength. Now we’d better learn that we can’t mansplain our way through the e-economy.
The bottom line is: must men fail for women to succeed? I say no. I say we rise and fall together. There's no other way. Otherwise, too many men with nothing to lose will tear the system down anyway.