Economic troubles lead to 'end of men'

Hanna Rosin


Kai Ryssdal: There was a point, late last year and early this, where women were a majority of the American workforce. Men are back at just over 50 percent in the latest survey, mostly because of seasonal changes in the kinds of work the economy provides. But, in general, this recession has put far more men out of work than it has women. Changes in the labor force could be just a symptom of larger gender-based disruptions in society and the economy.

Hanna Rosin writes in The Atlantic magazine this month about the economic troubles men are having in an article called "The End of Men." Hanna, welcome to the program.

Hanna Rosin: Thank you. I'm glad to be here.

Ryssdal: Couldn't help but notice -- and I get that you don't write the headlines for your articles -- but there was no question mark on the "End of Men." It's kind of done already, right?

Rosin: That's true. Usually you can convince the editors to at least put a question mark to save you the barrage of e-mails that you'll get later, vilifying your article. So, it's true, there is no question mark, that's true.

Ryssdal: It's basically, we're living through the change right now. This recession has brought the changes and the future is us.

Rosin: I would say that this recession has sort of accelerated and uncovered the changes that they've been happening for a long time in the economy and in relationships. But the recession kind of made us all see them in a way that maybe we wouldn't have sat up and taken notice earlier.

Ryssdal: Is it as simple as saying that the new economy, the 21st century economy, is just better suited to the skills and talents that women have?

Rosin: It might be that because you couldn't argue, say, for example, that women have gotten smarter than men, that we've bred a superior breed of woman. I mean, that certainly is not true. But it does seems to be that whatever skills are required -- I mean, you can take college as the most obvious example. How can you explain to yourself why women do better in college, or why women do better in school. It's not that men and women have radically changed or women are a lot smarter. It just seems to be whatever skills are required these days, women seem to be better at them.

Ryssdal: And it translates into the workforce, these management issues and all of that.

Rosin: Yes. If you look at job growth in the future economy, you take the top 15 jobs, and the great majority of them are jobs that tend to be dominated by women. I mean, the irony there is that they're nurturing-type jobs. They're jobs that open up because upper-class women are going more and more into the work force. And so, then middle and working-class and lower-working class women start to do the jobs that those women used to do for free, such as child care and elder care and food preparation, for example.

Ryssdal: You have this great series of quotes from these college-aged women. You went out to Missouri, I guess, and you talked to these obviously bright, ambitious women, who are dating these guys who clearly these women think are just schlubs.

Rosin: That kind of clinched it for me because when I was in college, certainly we all assumed that I would be working, that I would have a job, my husband worked too. It was kind of "equality vision." And then I go to this working-class college, it's a state school, it would not be an anathema for people to have traditional ideas of marriage roles.

And yet, what I found was the exact opposite. I was walking around the cafeteria -- the people I ended up quoting were three sorority girls who were sitting together. And indeed, they have a very casual assumption that they are going to be taking care of all the business, that their husbands are sort of not going to get their act together, and that they're going to be the ones who are making most of the money and their husbands will be home, taking care of the kids.

Ryssdal: Is it fair to say that men are being squeezed out of the economy?

Rosin: They are doing less well than women. But I say they're being completely squeezed out. I think that's slightly unfair. But they are having a hard time retooling. I mean, if you look at the job statistics, all the jobs that are growing, say, nurses -- there's no natural reason why a man can't become a nurse -- but for whatever reason, it's hard for them to adjust.

Women over the last 100 years, they have had to change their notion of who they are and what they do many times, very radically, over the last century. You know, can a woman with children work? Can a woman with young children work? What kinds of jobs can a woman do? There's lots of professions that started out as male-dominated and then became female-dominated -- teachers and secretaries being the most obvious example. But there are almost no professions that have gone in opposite direction, where they started out as female-dominated and men have started to do them. And so I think our notion of what a man can and can't do in this country changes, but extremely slowly. Whereas the notion of what a woman can and can't do and what's acceptable changes much more rapidly.

Ryssdal: Hanna Rosin in the current issue of The Atlantic magazine. Her article is called "The End of Men." Hanna, thanks a lot for your time.

Rosin: Thank you so much.

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Whatever the agenda, please demand facts of your guests. There is significant growth in men attending nursing school. Blue collar men are being displaced by cheap foreign workers when work is transportable, but RARELY is automation and fantastic productivity increases mentioned. Working women are most often in pink collar and white collar jobs. Productivity increases here are quite modest by comparison. MANY require public or private funding that may not be around forever. It's a tough transition time for all--hardly a zero sum game (So help to end the "gender war" aspects, OK?)

Rosin's article is rediculous. The men dominated occupations got hammered during the recession. Thats it. Its not an attack on men, its an attack on jobs.

During a couple of transitions in my life, one during a recession, I worked as a temporary secretary. I have **always** worked. Temping eventually helped me start a lucrative & stable new career. It seemed at the time as if men in transition just stayed home and looked for jobs in their fields.

UC Davis has a popular continuing ed program and when I look at the recent graduates names of all the varying disciplines, women are the majority of graduates in each field with one exception that is mostly male - Viticulture.

Woman mean cheap labor. I trained college-educated refugees for the American labor market, and the woman always found jobs first, but only because they were willing to try anything, at any wage, to support their families, including husbands. That's why "productivity" is still going up, which means "costs" are going down. Woman are the "costs," working longer hours for less pay.

The "End of Men", hummm. The Economist had an article about this about two months ago. It is a fact women who take traditional men roles earn at least 25% less. Women who are single parents not only earn less but, if below a certain salary make more on government assistance. Lets not forget certain fields men typically do not apply for, nursing happens to be one of those fields. Sciencetist disagree with one another but, I am with the camp that says certain genders usually better at certain activities. That is not always the case but pertains to many. A high school GPA or college GPA is not a good measure to determine skill set. Reason being, 1: skill trades make a very good living yet your GPA is not really as important as say for Eletrical Engineering (note: the average wage for a skilled laborer is tripling due to less people entering those types of jobs); 2: most guys don't really get serious about studies are have a direction to go in life until around 23. Most men can atest to this and does not takse a sciencetific opinion, matter fact ask most mothers. Also, while women may be moving into the work force more and more look who is still doing the hiring. As far as traditional family roles, like the article in the Economist said, most women manage the household budget for, if no other reason, by virtue of being at home and knowing the children's and husband's needs and ask most mothers and they will tell you, dad doesn't play Mr. Mom to often. I think in the end I think the issue is that over the past 50 years we have demonised staying at home and taking care of the children, partly because men could learn to do more work at home, and the other half is because media and some high profile women have made it seem that staying at home is subserviant. Ask most men and they will tell you they have much respect and admiration for the love of there life that runs the home, maybe not to there face all the time but definitly to there male counterparts. There is nothing wrong with women in the work force however, they need to understand they are subject to the same... issues as men. Many men have an attitude of shut up and take it, where is women feel this may be discrimination. Either choice, as long as it is what the person really desires to do is good but, do no one should look down on the woman who wants to be a stay at home mom. It takes just as much work, if not more, to guggle children a home and hobbies (and a man).

Economist: "Women in the Workforce"

When will we ever get over the tired old gender stereotypes????? Every kind of bad thing men have been known for I have experienced at the hands of a woman at work. Same goes for guys, gays, lesbians, and whatever else. Get OVER IT!!! the thing I have learned is that wow... Women can be just as bad as men. When will we all stop being jerks at work? That is the real question.

Yes women are adaptable and we have been known to work for less money. However I as a 50 something woman am not willing to squander my knowledge and ability for nothing. I know in the near future I will surpass any paycheck I have dreamed of. Nursing it will dominate the near future and hopefully for the long term we will see.

This “end of men” story is very misleading story if you know only US economy.

The fact is that many US corporations are hiring women to reduce labor cost so that the profits can increase despite of the bad economy. The similar labor situation was occurring in Japan as they had real estate bubble in 20 years ago. Many highly paid Japanese men lost jobs but many women who were underpaid got their jobs.

However, personally, I do prefer to have Japanese women around in work area because many US women are very hysteric some reason than Japanese women. It is so difficult to work with US women because personality of US women fluctuates up and down much more than Japanese women at daily work place.

Thirdly, many men are fired or let go. But who made decision to hire women than men?
You need to consider these factors before “end of men” is talked about.

I also know the fact, my daughter graduated from high school last week. There was no single boy who had GPA of 4.0 or above from her class. Yes, I agree that there is many more women are going into work area but controlling their personality at work place is far more important than having less labor cost. US need to increase work quality. Having poor personality at work area can reduce quality of products or services being offered in US business.

I can see which way US economy is heading to by doing comparative analysis with Japanese economy, which is very similar to the current US problem.

Hiring part time women workers are very common in both US and Japan simply women labor cost is far cheaper than men. This is true to all corporations.

So “end of men” does not mean “end of men”. It should be titled “end of men?” as Ryssdal said.

There is a negative to this. "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world". I fear for the future if women are taken away from child rearing although men are getting better at it when they make the effort.


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