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The Gender Debate

As women advance in the workplace, are men falling behind?

There's a lot of talk these days about how women can't "get ahead," but what if, amidst all the hand wringing, women are quietly doing just that?

Journalist Hanna Rosin argues in her book, The End of Men, (and in her article of the same name), that we are seeing the end of male dominance in the workplace, as well as in society in general. She shares some convincing statistics on women's advancement in the workplace at all economic levels:

  • Women are more likely than men to gain college and advanced degrees.
  • Women dominate 13 of the 15 job categories projected to grow the most over the next decade.
  • Women hold 51.4 percent of managerial and professional jobs. They make up 54 percent of all accountants and hold about half of all banking and insurance jobs. About a third of America's physicians are women, as are 45 percent of associates in law firms—and both those percentages are rising fast.
  • Female CEOs, while still relatively rare, out-earned their male counterparts by an average of 43 percent in 2009, and received bigger raises.

But the story doesn't stop with economic advancement. As women have made gains, Rosin argues, men are falling by the wayside, or even getting kicked to the curb. Rosin profiles a frustrated "support group" for working class men as they struggle to understand their new role in a world where women have taken over as the primary wage earners. She also takes a look at college admissions, where even elite universities struggle to maintain an "appropriate gender balance," not needing to boost the ranks of qualified women, but of qualified men.

That's a serious problem for women hoping to get married some day . . . or for any woman hoping to see her sons, brothers, or friends become confident, capable, and well-respected men.

Modern American pop culture is also a contributor, as it tends to reflect an image of men as either happily unambitious or hopelessly incompetent. In Rosin's "The End of Men" article published in The Atlantic, she sites movies Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Greenberg as examples where men are casted as "often-unemployed, romantically challenged losers" who can't figure out how to be men.

Overall, Rosin's perspective is very optimistic about the future of women in the workplace, but she paints a pretty dismal picture of the trajectory of men. That's a serious problem for women hoping to get married some day . . . or for any woman hoping to see her sons, brothers, or friends become confident, capable, and well-respected men.

To my dismay, it seems that many of the women (young women especially) interviewed in Rosin's article seemed eager not just to advance women, but to denigrate men. As the wife of a good man and mother of both boys and girls, I want the best for my husband and sons, as well as my daughters. I don't want them to think of each other or their peers as people they need to put down in order to succeed. Women can get to the top without stepping on men to get there.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if smart men and women felt empowered to use the gifts that God has given them, leveraging them to the max in the marketplace? If that happened, our culture and marketplace would change, and we would have capable women and men in leadership positions focused on serving from a Kingdom perspective.

Women don't need "the end of men." What we need is to see the best of men and the best of women working together and spurring each other on.

Sign up for TCW's free e-newsletter Lifework with Diane Paddison for exploring God's purpose for women in their career and calling as a means to influence culture and community.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

Diane Paddison

Diane Paddison is a business professional and founder of 4wordwomen.org, local groups of professional working women committed to faith, family, work, and each other.

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