When women win, men don’t have to lose

“What if modern society is simply better suited to women?”  This question was posed by the Atlantic’s Hanna Rosin and then addressed in a Newsweek cover article.  Both articles focus on the rise of women in the workforce, resulting in more economic power and increased range of choices for women today. This is a situation that has been evolving, and women’s roles have changed significantly in the last 30 years, but we seem to have hit a tipping point.  The main difference is that, when one looks ahead, the cumulative impact of these changes will only increase in the future.

Consider these facts stated in the articles:

  • For the first time, women now hold a majority of the nation’s jobs.
  • More women are outpacing men in earning college degrees.
  • Women now earn 60 percent of master’s degrees, about half of all law and medical degrees, and 42 percent of all M.B.A.s.
  • Of the job categories forecasted to grow the most in the next decade in the U.S., most are occupied primarily by women.

If women are better positioned for the future, one key question is how relationships between men and women will evolve. Women that we talk to, both in our work and personal lives, want to share their lives with a partner and still typically see that as the ideal. Even if the economic drivers may no longer demand it, the emotional needs are still there.

What I found most resonant in the Newsweek article was the idea that this is not a zero-sum game. Because women seem to be winning, this doesn’t necessarily have to mean that men are losing.  If the gender roles can evolve in a way improves satisfaction with ourselves and our relationships, then everyone wins.

Maybe the opportunity is to stop thinking of this situation as a gender role reversal and look at it as more of a role blend. What this will ultimately look like and how it will play out, we can’t know for sure yet. But the one thing we do know for sure is that more change is coming, and coming fast.

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3 responses to “When women win, men don’t have to lose

  1. Very insightful! I am a current MBA student where women make up 35% of the class, and have been struck by the diversity of my female classmates backgrounds and career interests, especially in the areas of i-banking, venture capital, and entrepreneurship. It’s exciting to be part of such a dynamic community of women.

  2. Liza Mandeville

    This data is very encouraging, however, as a nation we still struggle with women in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) with only 16% of US students earning degrees in STEM fields. I realize we are moving in the right direction and making progress, but as a mom / employee / citizen / voluneer I feel inspired to do what I can in helping empower and equip young women to start STEM careers and I encourage you to do the same. As the article mentions women a more frequently their family’s head of household, co-breadwinner and represent half of the workforce. So as women take on these important economic roles, we as a society must help prepare women for jobs that can support themselves and future families by having a better blend in STEM degrees and careers.

    • Thanks for the great comment, Liza. You make an excellent point that women continue to be under represented in those fields and I think that women who do enter the STEM fields have a higher attrition rate than men, which only compounds the problem. The perception that women are not as strong as men in the hard sciences is a stubborn one and I agree that women need more encouragement, pathways and mentors so they can take their place in those areas.

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