International Women’s Day is March 8th. So all posts this week would be women centric (but will be interesting for men too ).
This week, I wanted to write about personal finance and career topics that are specific to women. While going through my bookmarks for some other information, I came across a debate that I wanted to hear last September. I bookmarked it to hear the recording, forgot about it later and never got around to actually listening to the debate.
I checked again last weekend and was surprised to see the results of the debate. What was that debate about? – Men are finished. Do you agree?
In a modern, post-industrial economy that seems better suited to women than men, many are wondering if men have been permanently left behind. Education and employment statistics point to a clear and growing dominance in women’s status at home and in the workplace. Are men primed for a comeback or have the old rules changed for good?
As I mentioned I bookmarked this before the debate and was surprised to see people who believe “Men are finished” rose from 20% pre-debate to 66% post-debate. You can listen to the entire debate here – Men are finished. Or you can listen to Hanna Rosin’s (one of the debaters who argued for the motion) TED talk – New data on rise of women, which gives the gist of the debate in 16 mins.
I want to share some of the arguments made in that debate and my own research on the statistics to talk about two questions. The first one is the topic of this debate
1. Are men finished?
and the second one that naturally stems from the first topic is, if men are finished in the professional and economic world and women are out earning them,
2. Are men financially irrelevant?
This post is not to answer these questions but rather to start a discussion. I will provide my opinion based on two avenues
- Statistics (of course!)
- My personal life.
Statistically speaking :
Are men finished?
In the TED talk there were several statistics and anecdotes, to prove the claim that men are finished –
- In American fertility clinics, 75 percent of couples are requesting girls and not boys.
- Women make up a majority of the workplace now.
- In 1,997 out of 2,000 communities, women, young women, were making more money than young men.
- We used to have a manufacturing economy, which was about building goods and products, and now we have a service economy and an information and creative economy. Those two economies require very different skills, and as it happens, women have been much better at acquiring the new set of skills than men have been.
- Women are getting college degrees at a faster rate than men.
- “Men are the new ball and chain.”
- 92% of VC backed founders are men
- Women comprise just 19 percent of tenure-track professors in math, 11 percent in physics, 10 percent in computer science, and 10 percent in electrical engineering.
- Women now earn 57 percent of bachelors degrees and 59 percent of masters degrees. But, in the areas of high potential, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Management), men are still the majority. By far. 83.2% of students majoring in engineering are men.
- From the end of the recession in June 2009 through May 2011, men gained 768,000 jobs and women, by contrast, lost 218,000 during the same period.
- Men own 99 percent of the world’s property and rule 92 percent of its sovereign nations.
- In 2011, women held 16.1 percent of board seats at Fortune 500 companies.
Are men financially irrelevant?
When it comes to finance, according to the Virginia Tech Women’s wealth & philanthropy report,
- The number of wealthy women in the U.S. is growing twice as fast as the number of wealthy men.
- Women represent more than 40 percent of all Americans with gross investable assets above $600,000.
- 45 percent of American millionaires are women.
- 48 percent of estates worth more than $5 million are controlled by women, compared with 35 percent controlled by men.
- 60 percent of high net worth women have earned their own fortunes.
- Some estimate that by 2030, women will control as much as two-thirds of this nation’s wealth.
- Women are more likely to live in poverty than are adult men. Single-mother families face particularly high poverty rates, often because of the lower wages earned by women in these families.
- Female students are less well represented than men in science and technology-related fields, which typically lead to higher paying occupations.
- Despite their gains in labor market experience and in education, women still earn less than men.
- In part, this is because women and men work in different occupations, with women still concentrated in lower-paying and traditionally female occupations.
- Women account for 46% of the labor force, but 59% of workers making less than $8 an hour.
Personally speaking :
Personally, I would say the answer is “no” to both of these questions. Let us take my husband and I. Both of us hold advanced degrees, I work full-time & own a small business and last year I made a shade more than him. So does that mean my husband is financially irrelevant or that I “dominate” our household? No, it doesn’t work like that around here.
I made more last year because of him. Just because his name is not on the checks, that doesn’t mean he didn’t contribute.
- I started the business, but he gave me the confidence to take the first step.
- I implemented a lot of ideas over the last two years, but he put the seeds of those ideas in my mind and was also available for brainstorming.
- I had to juggle a lot of tasks, he made sure I still stayed focused on what really mattered.
- He had a lot of ideas but lost interest quickly in many of them. I took all his ideas, implemented them and stuck to it long enough to see the results.
- I am creative and he helps give shape to my creations.
- He pushed me to take a lot of risks, I resisted and in the end, it turned out we had taken enough risks to give us a nice benefit but not so much that we needed to put our life savings into it.
- He took care of everything on the home front when I had to work long hours in my full time job. That allowed me to spend my free time writing and not worry about the cooking or cleaning.
As you can see, neither one of us would have succeeded without the other. Where I lacked, he filled the void, where he was weak, I gave him strength.
I think this topic would fit in nicely as we celebrate women this week. Sometimes I think feminism is overdone and by sending the wrong message at times, we are missing the point – there are still women all over the world who are fighting for the right to even speak freely; there are plenty of women in this world who are stereotyped and their success attributed to their looks vs their intelligence; there are plenty of women in this world who can’t get an education because it is felt that they don’t need it.
Arguments on who dominates whom, according to me, shifts the focus on who is going to win the race and drops the ball on women who are still fighting for their basic rights. This video might have been done with good intentions, to encourage women, but it also makes me want to feel sorry for them. So does that mean women are already where they want to be? Oh hell no!
A lot of men and women are ditching the “this is woman’s work” and “that is a man’s job” to a system that works for them and their family. They’re simply changing and redefining their role in society in ways that defy old stereotypes. That doesn’t mean that one is less significant that the other. How does that mean men are finished or that they are financially irrelevant?
All the women I know want to work with men, not against them. All the women I know, want 3 things from society
- Freedom of choice
- Appreciation and acknowledgment for a job well done.
The saying used to be “Behind every successful man, there is a woman”, I think it would be appropriate to say “Behind every successful person, there is a partner”. We still have a long way to go with equality. If we don’t fight about who gets the trophy, may be we can all win.
Now, your turn. Do you think men are finished or that they are financially irrelevant?