Hanna Rosin’s article “Who Wears The Pants in this New Economy?” appearing in the New York Times Magazine on 9/2/2012 is a provocative way to celebrate Labor Day. As a career strategist and author of The Inner World of Money: Taking Control of Your Financial Decisions and Behavior, Hanna is right on target with her analysis about how the world of work has changed for both genders.
It used to be that men were on top in the Industrial Age where brawn and muscle mattered more than brains and interpersonal skills. Today, the better paying jobs with greater stability require competencies typically associated with women-deliberate thinking rather than overly decisive and impulsive thinking, confidence rather than overconfidence, negotiation rather than duress, dialogue rather than debate, collaborative decision making rather than expert decision making, and many more qualities that differentiate men from women at work.
In the United States, regardless of what any politician promises of any party, heavy manufacturing is not returning to the Rust Belt, labor intensive farming is not coming back to the Deep South and the Heartland, and highly automated back office jobs in financial services, customer service, and legal services are not going to rebound resulting in tens of millions of new jobs.
The future is very likely to be most promising for those who earn at least an associate degree even to work in manufacturing and the future is very likely to be most promising to those who cultivate some of the attributes typically associated with women. Women and men are different in many ways and similar in many ways. The workplace is now recognizing these differences but not quite at the highest levels, that is, executive floors and boardrooms.