“The number of working women in the United States is about to surpass the number of working men. Three-quarters of the people who have lost jobs in the current recession are men” (Harvard Business Review September 2013), yet women still earn on average 77 cents in the dollar to that of a man. On the surface these statistics seem like a great thing, and to a degree they are, but if women remain the bulk of the underpaid workforce and men remain the bulk of those in power, there will be even greater issues for women in the future. As the article points out, many companies are still failing to provide the right products and services to women and these companies are the one’s who will suffer in the future because of women’s increased financial ability to consume and influence.
There are other issues for men when their working lives are impacted by long-term unemployment and these can include a loss of self-esteem, a loss of financial stability and general emotional insecurity. This can be difficult for those men who were previously the breadwinner and may feel a loss of identity. The change in status for them in their home life and the way they think that they are perceived by the community can lead to depression and illness which will ultimately impact the economy.
There may be more severe impacts on society, particularity if some men start to see themselves negatively and begin to relate to women in a different way because of these feelings of inadequacy and fear. Books like “Guys and Guns Amok, Domestic Terrorism and School Shootings from the Oklahoma City Bombing to the Virginia Tech Massacre” Kellner (2008), cite a ‘crisis of masculinity’ because men’s previously secure identities are now in question and a change in breadwinner status could lead to an increase in violence because some men can not cope with the change in their status. Kellner says;
One can only speculate how a major change in the status quo of gender balance of the workforce may impact society, but it is something that we need to understand quickly. Kellner also believes that ‘white men fear losing their status as the dominant group’ (pg.; 93) because of globalisation and multi culturalism. This combined with the increased agitation by women for their own equality, may push some men to violence when fear and insecurity turn to anger. Kellner goes on to talk about ‘anti statism’, ‘anti politics’ and the increase in ‘militaria’, but we won’t continue on that vein in this discussion – suffice to say that there is fear out there in this current globalised economic climate where, particularly in America, women are now overtaking men in employment.
Added to the economic loss of employment for male Americans is the fact that the numbers of those incarcerated in the United States continues to rise, with the prison population rising from 744 thousand to 2.2 million between 1985 and 2002 (Giroux) alone. In the United States a prison officer now earns more than a school teacher, and there are alarming numbers of young coloured American men permanently incarcerated. What sort of message are we sending to young men?
Enough is enough! How do we fix this? Its up to each and everyone of us to Question, Question and Question some more and then demand transparency in our organisations to compare wages. We need to question government policy and create discourse that help to positively influence the way society thinks about work and gendered roles.
Kellner, D (2008). “Guys and guns amok: domestic terrorism and school shootings from the Oklahoma City bombing to the Virginia Tech massacre”,Paradigm Publishers, 01/01/2008
This great article in the Harvard Business Review spells it out http://hbr.org/2009/09/the-female-economy/es?goback=.gde_2306571_member_267262109
ABOUT THE AUTHOR SUSANNE MOORE
Susanne is the Founder and Chair of The Centre for Gender Economics and Innovation™ and is credited with developing the emerging fields of Gender Economics and Diversity Economics. Now a Sociologist after a career in ICT and business, she has a focus on Gender, innovation and performance at an organisational level through her consulting. She brings a practical business experience coupled with academic rigour to her consulting practice around Gender Economics. An advocate for the advancement of women in leadership, she developed the Diversity Program Review Framework™ (DPRF™) in 2012, a diagnostic which measures both the program’s standalone effectiveness from a program management perspective, and assesses the viability of program’s data for further research in Diversity Economics and as input into organisational profitability and sustainability in creating the next generation of Business Transformation.
Susanne is passionately interested in equality, equity, truth and justice and how these attributes can improve business performance through transforming business ideologies and shifting traditional business paradigms.
She is an articulate, professional, entertaining and thought provoking speaker follow her @susannemoore or @gendereconomics