Hanna Rosin: the end of men and the rise of women

Women’s dominance on college campus is possibly the strangest and most profound change of the century, even more so because it is unfolding in a similar way all over the world.

This book, boldly titled and with a very colourful cover, provides convincing evidence that there has been a significant reduction in the power of men and expansion in the economic and social power of women.

And it has happened rapidly in the United States  – while feminists weren’t really watching.

For the last decade or so it has been apparent that women in the western world are outperforming men in traditional academic institutions – and I have often drawn attention to our success; only a bit more than 100 years since they opened the doors and now we are 60% of the students and earning better grades! Look how well we are doing! But I didn’t ever contemplate some of the consequences that Hanna Rosin puts forward.

On occasion I have facetiously asked: where have all the men gone? And on the basis of TV viewing in Australia, I figured that they must be going into football or other sports!

But Hanna Rosin has found that there are many contributing factors leading to the end of men and the rise of women – and they aren’t necessarily associated with feminist campaigns or protests. But they are associated with education – and job opportunities.

In an attempt to explain what is going on, she quotes a study of university dormitories; of an evening, the male dorms were full with boys playing video games till their eyes glazed over. The female dorms were virtually empty – with the women in the library – working!

Even when they are at university the men tend to behave differently; they high –five one another when they get a C while girls get all upset if they only get a B. Girls get their degrees with no drama – while boys are in constant danger of dropping out – drifting away.

And there is also the drop in male enrolments at university that remains unexplained. I’d be interested to know what others make of this decline in numbers to 40% or less. A few causes have been suggested – such as classrooms and educational institutions are more suited to women – but I don’t really know what that means given that the system has been designed and controlled by men for centuries.

Education in most of the western world is still a 19th century legacy one set up by Thomas Arnold and designed for a boys’ private school in England. (That’s when they divided knowledge into subjects; the day into periods, and students into grades – and favoured direct instruction backed up by punishments!)

It’s quite clear that we are moving from the industrial revolution to the information age (which has only just begun) and that education and ‘soft skills’ are in demand rather than physical strength. Since 2008 there has been a huge loss of male blue collar jobs in the United States while some of the traditional female professions – education, child care, aged care, health services, nursing, medical technology etc continue to grow.

But according to Hanna Rosin – women now also dominate auditing, accounting, pharmacy, law, vet science, optometry forensic pathology,  – everything in fact except IT and engineering.  (In the UK, women are hitting the tipping point of more than 50% of GPs and it would be much the same in Australia).

Pharmacy alone tells a tale: women were 8% of the profession in 1960 and are 60% today. One theory is that men flee once women enter in significant numbers in the same way whites have fled neighbourhoods when African-Americans started to buy houses in the street! Could this be possible? And have they just gone to play snooker?

Men must have recognized this shift: so why aren’t more of them acquiring the professional skills that have underpinned their financial dominance and their role as breadwinners? Hanna Rosin says that male enrolments in the prestigious private colleges are so low that there is an affirmative action program for men in place. to prevent the universities from becoming over-feminised.

As 40% of wives now earn more than their husbands, –  ‘The men (once) destined to be breadwinners have lost their way causing a sudden upending of the rules of sex, marriage, politics, religion, and the future aspirations of young people  … younger men are especially unmoored and closer than at any other time in history to being obsolete at least by more traditional standards of social utility, and women are left picking up the pieces’ writes Rosin (p82).

In some industrial towns where all the men have lost their jobs, the women got better jobs working at the local doctors, or lawyers, in offices or retail – or they work and also go to college and university to become nurses or teachers. One guy tells Rosin that ‘The wives are making more money and paying the bills, but the Southern man has to pretend that he’s the one holding it all together’ (p84).

Another male says, ‘You’re gonna laugh at this but it was harder on the men than on the women. It seems like their skills were more, what’s the word, transferable’.

One of the threads that runs through this book is how women have dramatically changed the way they evaluate men. When women no longer need to look to men for financial dependence – if they can manage in their own right – what is the value add of a husband?

None at all according to some university women; ‘Guys are the new ball and chain!’ (p14).

Harsh words are uttered; Today’s college girl, says Rosin, is more likely to see a potential suitor as something like an accidental pregnancy; a danger to be avoided at all costs – in case it limits career prospects. (p21). And women who have married men who make little or no effort to get a job, or who don’t do much in the home – are on the receiving end of some very caustic criticisms.

Economists are starting to take account of this new reality and recognize that women don’t marry men who are just another mouth to feed! (p87)

How and why have men lost the educational plot?

Even in China special education for males is being considered as it has been observed that women outperform men in university exams and men account for 80% of the 50 million who are rated as poor students (p166)

Hanna Rosin concludes that the explanation might be simple, Women have been in the right place at the right time and have the right aptitudes.

Women have been preparing for financial independence and leadership for quite a while and their talents are especially well matched with the skills that are required in the information age. Perhaps women have always had these skills but it has taken opportunities for education, and work – along with birth control – and a break with the old stereotype of only wife and mother – for their full potential to be realized.(p163)

Women have written the blueprint of work for the future. The only real question is whether men will adapt! (p141)



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