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Are men now the weaker sex in society?

Recently, the Economist wrote an interesting article on changing social relations between men and women on the labor market. For centuries, societies were leaded, created and protected by men, while women took care of the household and raising the children. In the past century however, women justifiably fought for more rights and equality, because the traditional gender roles are no longer maintainable in today’s complex society. This resulted in a big growth of the labor force in many countries, giving western countries huge welfare increases. But today a new, slightly worrying, trend is taking place on the labor market.

More than 90% of the presidents and prime ministers worldwide are male, so from that perspective men are still leading in society. Besides politics, other traditional masculine sectors such as technology, sports and finance are also still highly represented by men at the top level and this won’t change in the near future. From a general point of view this seems logical, because men are often physically stronger, feel the urge to take lots of responsibility and focus on finding solutions in their thought processes.
Especially the latter two male characteristics are noble, but they turn out into weaknesses quite some times. Men tend to take too much tasks upon them for which they are actually not suited. Focusing too much on solutions can cause a ‘blind spot’ for other, less obvious concerns. The fact of being physically strong is undoubtedly a comparative advantage with respect to women, but the role of physical strength is from much less importance in today’s society, which is more and more dependent on cognitive strength.

If we look at the bottom of society, men are – not in a positive way – dominant as well. Ending up in jail (93%), being separated from their children after a divorce or even committing suicide (66%) are examples of events which happen to men much more likely than to women. Another fact is that low educated men in rich countries seem to have much difficulties finding an appropriate job. Manual jobs are taken by cheaper Asian or African people or replaced by mechanical production. Especially middle-and high aged unemployed male workers can hardly adapt the required qualifications for today’s average jobs, while unemployed women have bigger chances to get hired as bar tenders, nurses, teachers and much other jobs that were not long ago perceived as typically masculine.  In the book “The End Of Men”, Hanna Rosin states that of the 30 occupations expected to grow fastest in America in the coming years, women dominate 20, including nursing, accounting, child care and food preparation. Women are generally considered as much more appropriate for these service-aimed jobs, because women usually have more discipline and have more positive influences on consumer satisfaction.

An explanation for the weaker male position in the labor market is also in today’s education. In the OECD, men only earn 42% of the university degrees and boys are 50% more likely than girls to fail in essential subjects as reading, math and science. Is our current state of education more suitable for girls than for boys? The development that more and more teachers are female could imply that our education is going through a feminine evolution. Whether this is true or not is currently subjected to personal opinions, but taking the recent developments of the situation for blue collar workers into consideration, it is time to consider policies to protect boys from dropping out of school, like a critical evaluation of education methods, promoting men to become a teacher, punishments of unwanted behavior and putting more emphasis on developing positive masculine characteristics such as assertiveness. If men really turn out to be the weaker sex, a new century-long fight for gender equality is unnecessary and has to be prevented.

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