The rise of women

There is an interesting and somewhat controversial new book out entitled The End of Men: And the Rise of Women.  I have not read this book but have read several articles on it and it is stirring reaction.  David Brooks picked up on his long held theories about the decline of boys and men.   I don’t want to weigh too far in on this issue.  It’s really about my pay grade to paraphrase Obama but I will dip my toe in the water with a few stats for your edification.

Since the 1950s, the ratio of men to women in the workforce has been tightening and is now just under 1:1.

In just 10 years, New Brunswick has seen a huge shift in the balance between men and women.  The number of men working in New Brunswick has essentially stagnated over the past decade while the number of working women is up by more than nine percent.  In other words, New Brunswick doesn’t have an ’employment’ problem, it has a ‘male’ employment problem.

The reason for this is that most of the new jobs being created in the NB economy are dominated by female workers.  With the exception of management (where women actually lost ground in the past decade) and natural and applied sciences occupations (poor old Larry Summers), women are dominating in all white collar industries.  Look at professional occupations in business and finance in the following table.  Look at health.  Men still dominate in occupations that involve heavy lifting but that is just about (oh, and the management jobs).

The wage gap has narrowed dramatically in just the past decade.  At the current pace, women will earn more than men across virtually all job categories within the next 15-20 years.

Probably the biggest driver of the changes is the education level of the workforce.  The women in New Brunswick’s workforce are pulling away from men in terms of education levels.  In 2001, women had only a slight advantage in the number with university degrees and far fewer with advanced degrees.  Now there are 30% more women with a university degree working in New Brunswick compared to men and the number of women with advanced degrees has zoomed by men.

I’ll let you decide what this all means.


9 thoughts on “The rise of women

  1. PS for the wonks out there all this data is from the Labour Force Survey. There will be differences with the Census data coming out next year but it will be interesting to see….

  2. I haven’t looked at Alberta but the significant increase of jobs in oil and gas (which is still predominantly male) and the high wages associated with those jobs likely mean that Alberta males are doing quite well on the income front. However, I suspect the divergence in education levels would mirror New Brunswick.

  3. The education figures at least reflect what had been happening in the UK workforce; girls were achieving better results in high school, more were going to University and parity was being reached on advanced degrees.

    The worrying thing for me is that there’s still wage disparity, it astounds me that even now a man is generally more likely to be paid more than an identically qualified woman (though it has narrowed significantly).

    From those figures and my own experience I’d identify a problem in the education system; not just the way classes are taught and assessment is made (which generally favours girls in the method), but also in the aspirations and role models for boys. If 70% of your teachers are likely female (from my experience 90+% in primary, less in Secondary) then perhaps the male population is suffering from a lack of role models and strong male influences in their lives that would lead them to greater post-secondary aspirations

  4. I think it was on The Current this week, I didn’t hear it but there was a show about ‘stay at home dads’. Of the people I know, probably about 50% of the families have the woman making more money than the man.

    I think education and health needs to be parsed a bit. At university it is more likely that a man will be teaching, whereas in elementary school its more likely to be a woman. Actually, there is so much bias that I almost even think its creepy when a man WANTS to teach little kids! In the healthcare system its more likely that a man will be a doctor, and a woman will be a nurse. In the sciences, biology is typically women’s turf, while physics and engineering is largely male dominated.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the only employment problem is a ‘male’ employment problem-especially in NB.

    I don’t want to be alarmist or racist, but it always worries me when I virtually NEVER see a white male face at the University of Waterloo. Each year they seem to be rarer and rarer. The problem should be clear-uneducated young males can not only be bad for the economy, but can be bad for society in general. There is usually a lot of anger associated with failing to live up to one’s potential, and as we see from all over the world, having a lot of young unemployed men can be bad when politics turns turbulent.

  5. “the way classes are taught and assessment is made (which generally favours girls in the method)”

    What change in methods would account for the relative improvement for females? Perhaps the change has more to do with the increasing presence of ’empowered’ female role models in the workplace/media/culture, rather than the schools. There is also, IMHO, an ‘immigrant effect’; much in the same way that children of immigrants are urged to reach higher, and get that prof degree, females are perhaps being pushed harder to get those degrees by their parents. The ‘take less; attitude is no longer there.

    The strong male role models are still there, but there is now more competition (with females) for spots in post-secondary schools. What is more interesting, IMHO, is how some professions have gone from overwhelmingly male-dominated to female-dominated in one generation. In some of those professions (MD, DVM) there is now less relative financial reward vis a vis other professions/careers. Is that why men have abandoned them? I am not sure we have to worry about the poor boys just yet.

  6. @David Campbell
    I was thinking along those same lines, but wondered about the financial sector. I come from almost a decade in commercial lending in Western Canada and felt it was still very much a good ol boys club. That is why I was surprised to see the high rate of females in the professional business and finance industry above.

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