In her provocatively titled book, The End of Men: And the Rise of Women, Hanna Rosin makes a compelling argument that the post-industrial economy is threatening to leave men behind.
Rosin, a senior editor at The Atlantic, argues that while male workers are failing to adjust to new economic realities, women continue to demonstrate incredible resilience in the face of these shifting economic conditions.
She writes of the impact of the Great Recession, in which many jobs in professions traditionally dominated by men – construction, manufacturing, and finance – were lost forever. The near collapse of these sectors is a major reason that at the peak of the financial crisis, nearly 1 in 5 men of prime working age were unemployed, the highest percentage in history.
At the same time, the economy is emerging from the recession as a different animal, and some of the fastest growing industries, including nursing, childcare, and food preparation, are dominated by female workers. This trend says Rosen, would suggest that the future belongs to women, and men are going to have to adapt if they want to remain active participants in the workforce.
The decline of male-dominated professions is among a range of subjects explored by Rosin.
She also examines women’s collective willingness to continually push the edges of the social and economic envelope, which has been demonstrated in recent employment numbers. Not only are there more women in the workforce than men, but they have also made inroads into high paying professional jobs. According to Rosin, 54% of accountants are women, as are 45% of associates at law firms, and a third of them are physicians.
These numbers will likely only grow in the future. The emerging information economy favors the educated, and women not only make up the majority of university students, but also are more likely to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees than men. Women also appear to be better at mastering skills such as communication and teamwork, which are crucial to operating successfully in our new economy.
Of course, these trends do not necessarily mean “the end of men,” but Rosin does believe they will lead to the end of traditional concepts of masculinity. In the past 30 to 40 years, women have repeatedly changed their social roles to keep up with the evolving economy while men’s roles have remained largely static. Now, at least according to Rosin, men are feeling the pinch of shifting economic sands, and they will need to adapt if they want to fully enjoy the benefits of an affluent society. We may not be facing the end of men, but we are facing the end of men as we know them.
Photo: Flickr: Erix