Women Shall Inherit The Economy?

Oct 5 2012 @ 7:20pm

Stephanie Coontz takes issue with Hanna Rosin's The End Of Men:

I am not convinced that women have been that much more nimble and flexible than men in adjusting to new conditions. Women, like men, continue to select gender-stereotypical occupations and college majors such as health care and services. It may be that women’s gender inertia simply has happened to be an advantage in a period when these jobs are expanding, while men’s gender inertia has left them more vulnerable to deindustrialization and the deskilling of traditional male jobs.

It remains to be seen how nimbly women will respond as the ripple effects of recession-induced cutbacks further shrink the government sector, another traditional area of female employment. Although men bore 80 percent of the job losses during the first stages of the recession, since then women have lost a higher proportion of jobs than men, and have recovered a lower proportion of those lost jobs.

Part of Rosin's earlier response to Coontz:

As I write in the book, of the top 15 jobs projected to grow in the next several years, 12 of the categories are dominated by women. Maybe women are choosing health occupations because the health care field is booming, not because they are blindly walking into a female ghetto.

There is a pretty clear pattern in the professions women tend to gravitate toward, as Harvard economist Claudia Goldin outlined in a paper on labor force trends. Women tend to thrive in jobs where some structural or technological innovation has made it possible for workers to succeed without sacrificing their personal lives. Women are dominating pharmacy school because pharmacists now work in shifts and don’t generally have to take on the extra headache of owning their own business the way they used to. This means that it’s possible for women to scale back for some years while raising children, or otherwise manage their time.