In case you are raising boys, and are not a middle age man, what I am going to share may be news to you. Men are now our parents women. Huh? Basically, as time has gone on, and society advanced past the industrial age, women are now better suited for many, if not most, professions in todays world. You may be thinking I am being cyncial but the evidence is piling up. And we better start recognizing it as we raise our sons. The old ways just are not going to cut it in this brave new world.
In 2010 women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in American history. There are now three women graduating from college for every two men. I think we can stop arguing for equality-except pay is not quite there but it is approaching equillibrium. Our culture has created this disparity in a totally unplanned manner. Even certain Asian countries now place an emphasis on young parents birthing girls.
Why? In the post-industrial world thinking and communication skills have more value than brute strength for economic success. Of course, women have always been programmed to be better communicators than men.
The result? During the last five years, 75% of the jobs lost were held by men. Think about the industries that have been significantly hurt in this recession and how male-oriented they are. Manufacturing, construction, finance. The reason we need to start teaching our boys differently is for their future in the world of employment. Just a few of them are going to make $254 million over 10 years (aka Albert Pujols). I think we all believe the future for our boys might be in being paid to play games. Reality says we better realize our boys chances of being paid to play is very, very slim. Chances are much better they will get paid to provide a service. Of the 15 job categories projected to grow over the next decade, all but two are women dominated fields. In fact, the fastest growing job fields are dominated with services that formerly were performed by women in the home, and can be scaled into successful businesses. Think home health care and food preparation. Even the education system values the skill sets that come more easily to girls (verbal skills, focus, and slef-control). We can’t reprogram our boys, but we need to with awareness direct them toward the future.
The self-reliance of woman is now evidenced by delaying or postponing marriage. Why haul along a husband who may earn much less, and is not profecient at housekeeping skills also? Maybe the least we can do is make our sons learn some domestic skills that we naturally avoid for boys, but encourage for girls.
What made me think about this today is the news from Purdue that the College of Engineering has set a new record for women enrollment. Since 2007, the first year female population has grown by 42%! In this traditionally male field, women easily could succeed once the sterotypes are set aside, and the way the learning takes place adjusts from lecture to more group oriented. That is what Purdue is doing and the result is one more avenue that women could become equal, if not dominant.
I have three daughters and I am happy for all of these opportunities that the world will provide for them. I also have two sons and the traditional world for boys, that I grew up in, and they are a part of, is lacking in really preparing them for the skills they are going to need. As parents we have to start to recognize this. While we can toss off certain behaviors with “boys will be boys” we may want to ask whether we really want them to be.
(Many of the facts referenced in this post came from an amazing story in The Atlantic magazine title “The End of Men”. I suggest you read it.)