I don’t really consider myself a “Man’s-Man” – I love to fish, go to college football games and I’ll watch back-to-back ESPN SportsCenters that are the exact same episode likes it’s brand new material – but I don’t hunt, I can arrange flowers better than my wife and musical theater is something I look forward to. Probably more metro than macho – at least from a Midwest standpoint – I’m not Manhattan Metro – I’m more Milwaukee Metro. I have 3 sons – so the topic of males is something I tend to study – I want to raise my boys to be successful men – in work, in life and in love. That is no easy task in today’s American society.
Hanna Rosin recently released the new book, The End of Men: And the Rising of Women, which looks at how society over the past 50 years has slowly but surely shifted to a point where women have begun to move ahead of men in almost every measure. This isn’t a feminist look at the topic, it’s a data driven look – and in many ways to blows away much of our traditional views on gender in our society. From a Time article on the book:
“changes in the world economy have dramatically shifted gender roles. Women have adapted more skillfully to the new socioeconomic landscape by doggedly pursuing self-improvement opportunities, rebranding as the economy requires it, and above all possessing the kind of 21st century work attributes — such as strong communication skills, collaborative leadership and flexibility — that are nudging out the brawny, stuck-in-amber guys. Rock steadiness, long a cherished masculine trait, turns out to be about as useful in our fleet-footed economy as a flint arrowhead. Life favors the adapters, and it turns out they’re more likely to be women.”
- Schools have in effect become microcosms of the larger economy. Richard Whitmire, author of Why Boys Fail, summarizes the trend this way: “The world has gotten more verbal, boys haven’t.”
- Beyond straight verbal skills, boys tend to get tripped up by what researchers call “non-cognitive skills” meaning the ability to focus, organize yourself, and stay out of trouble….
- In the late 1990s, educators acted on the correct assumption that all jobs now require more sophisticated writing. Cops now need advanced degrees and practice in communication skills; factory workers are expected to be able to fill out elaborate orders. Society expects most workers to have college-level literacy, even if their day-to-day jobs do not really require it.
So, what does all this mean? I’m not naive – I know men in executive leadership roles still dominate and in most segments in our country/world we still have major pay disparity – but these differences are changing at a historic pace and experts believe one day soon (by looking at college graduate projections) women will flip this upside down. I wonder how many HR Shops are starting to put together diversity groups of white males – my guess would be zero. I do believe that one day before my career in HR is over – HR shops will have to address an issue that involves “Developing Males” – seems almost laughable to write down. Corporations having to be concerned about encouraging and developing male leaders seems like something I would never have to worry about in our society – it was always the “natural” way – until it wasn’t.