The past few decades have seen great advancements for women in all fields of society as our patriarchal culture is progressively giving way to a more balanced society. This new balance of power between the sexes is also transforming women’s expectations towards family and relationships. This is a great thing. After centuries of domination and humiliation by men – think of sayings such as “a man’s place is at work, a woman’s in the kitchen” – it’s high time for men to embrace feminism full on.
In the Western world, the time when women were stay-at-home housewives and men were the sole breadwinners of the household – as depicted in the first seasons of the brilliant TV show Mad Men - is long gone. In developed countries, women are increasingly climbing up the ladder in the workplace and in higher education. In fact:
- Women are expected to dominate 13 of the 15 job categories expected to grow the most in the next decade.[i]
- Women have now half the jobs in the American and British workforces. In the US, women own 40 percent of private businesses[ii].
- Women are now a third more likely to enter higher education than men and increasingly outnumber men on most courses. For every 100 acceptances at English universities 55 are from girls and 45 from boys. Within 5 years, this ratio could climb to 60:40. Women also graduate with more top-degrees than men[iii][iv].
- 14% of women are now in executive positions at Fortune 500 companies – an increase of 65 percent in just three years. Moreover, in 2012, Larissa Mayer – CEO of Yahoo – was named the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company[v].
- Women earn on average 81.2 percent of what men earn. In 1979, this ratio was 62 percent.
In our post-industrial world, physical strength and stamina are no longer the prerequisites of a successful career. Women don’t need men to bring a fresh kill from a hunt to feed them anymore. In the second half of the 20th century, thinking and communicating have progressively come to replace physical attributes as the keys to economic success. In fact, it is the countries that take advantage of the capabilities of all their members – not just half of them – that get a greater advantage on the chessboard that is the global economy. In 2006 the OECD thus measured the economic and political power of women in 162 countries and found out that almost every time, the greater the power of women, the greater the country’s economic success[vi]. In short, there is absolutely no reason today why women should not occupy the same number of positions as men in all areas of society and be compensated appropriately for it.
In parallel to these changes, women’s attitude towards family and relationships is also changing. Women’s median age of first marriage in the US has shifted from 20 in 1960 to 26 today and a smaller portion of American women in their early 30s are married today than at any other point since the 1950s. Women are also marrying less. In 1960, more than 50% of women aged 18 to 29 were married. Today, that figure is only 22 percent. Likewise, 50 percent of the adult population is now single and that portion is very likely to keep on growing[vii].
Finally, women are increasingly refusing to yield to the pressure of having children and being defined by the algorithm woman=mother. Since 1976, the percentage of women in their early 40s who have not given birth has nearly doubled and a childless single woman of a certain age is no longer automatically perceived as a useless spinster [viii].
In other words, despite much progress still needed, our society is shifting towards more equality between the sexes and women are no longer the “second sex”. In order to speed things up however, men need to stand behind women in their fight and support them. And no, this won’t make you look like a “pussy” or somehow lead women to rule the world to the detriment of men. Quite the opposite, it will show women that you’re understanding towards their cause, and that you’re past the level of maturity of a 15-year-old.
[i]Sohn, E. (2011). Is this the End of Men or the Beginning of Women?. Available: http://news.discovery.com/human/genetics/women-men-workplace-110920.htm. Last accessed Feb 2014.
[ii] Washington Post. (2012). Men ‘no longer main breadwinner’. Available: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/12/27/men-women-breadwinner-earnings-workforce-pay-equality_n_2369849.html. Last accessed Feb 2014.
[iii] Williams, C. (2013). University gender gap widens . Available: http://www.cherwell.org/news/uk/2013/04/18/university-gender-gap-deepens-says-report. Last accessed Feb 2014.
[iv] Khan, U. (2009). Women now outnumber and outperform men at all universities. Available: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/5417475/Women-now-out-number-and-out-perform-men-at-all-universities-study-finds.html. Last accessed Feb 2014.
[v]Parson, S. (2014). We’ve Come A Long Way: Women in the Workplace – Forbes. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sabrinaparsons/2013/10/25/weve-come-a-long-way-women-in-the-workplace/. [Accessed 19 August 2014].
[vi] OECD. (2006). Measuring Gender (In) Equality. Available: http://www.oecd.org/dev/36228820.pdf. Last accessed Feb 2014.
[vii] Bolick, K. (2011). All the Single Ladies. Available: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/11/all-the-single-ladies/308654/. Last accessed Feb 2014.
[viii]Livingston, G; Cohn,D. (2010). Childlessness Up Among All Women; Down Among Women with Advanced Degrees | Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2010/06/25/childlessness-up-among-all-women-down-among-women-with-advanced-degrees/ [Accessed 19 August 2014].