The decline of the working woman

Posted on July 8, 2011 by

The Financial Times laments the fact that girls don’t want to be geeks.

…the participation of women in technology appears to be falling. In the UK, women accounted for just 18 per cent of technology professionals in 2010, down from 22 per cent in 2001… Overt sexism or discrimination does not appear to be the problem. “There is nothing institutional that is stopping women. It is not misogynistic,” says Alicia Navarro, founder of Skimlinks, an online advertising technology company.

It was never difficult being one of the rare women on her university computer science course or at technology companies, she says. “In my experience, geeks have always been very welcoming of there being more girls in their midst.” However, a culture of long hours and an image of “geekiness” were some of the key concerns raised by women surveyed

Wait… you don’t say? Women don’t want to work in the IT sector because of the long hours, math-bent, and frequent travel? I am shocked! Shocked, I say! You mean women would rather study marketing than engineering? Who would have expected that?

But seriously now, even the Washington Post has finally pointed out that my predictions are coming true. While men were the majority of the layoffs at the start of the decline, they are being hired back in greater numbers. Women are slowly being shoved out of the job market as the government-sector shrinks, and those jobs that aren’t eliminated altogether are being handed to men.

“Men were in a deeper hole in terms of jobs lost during the recession, and it make sense that they would come back faster,” said Heather Boushey, senior economist at the Center for American Progress, who has studied differences in employment trends for men and women. “But there’s also a large role played by cuts at state and local governments. We’re laying off teachers around the country.”

Still, something more than sectorial shifts seems to be afoot. According to the Pew study, men have done better than women in 15 of 16 major sectors of employment — in sectors that are male-dominated, female-dominated and evenly divided.

While the Pew researchers were hesitant about drawing firm conclusions from this, one possibility is that men, who are at the moment disproportionately unemployed, are more willing to accept low wages or a job outside their comfort zone than women.

You mean… like… geeky jobs? Jobs with long hours and frequent travel? Jobs involving dirty hands or math? You mean… men can be nurses, too? I thought only women can do that! There’s no physical advantage to greater upper-body strength, practical advantage to longer hours or greater shift flexibility, or academic advantage to mathematical abilities among nurses… oh, wait. Oh, dear. You mean… when schools are deciding whether to lay off the female math teacher with an English degree, or the male math teacher with a Math degree, they lay off the female one? You mean… men can do almost anything women can do… only better? You mean… men are bigger, stronger, smarter, more flexible, and more productive than women are, and that these traits translate to being preferential hires? Oh my gosh! You mean… men and women aren’t the same?

Luckily, there is something that women do better than men, but I can’t think of it right now. It must not be very important. What are all of these unemployed women going to do at home, while their husbands are at work? *sigh* I suppose they’ll all have to retrain as construction workers or security guards, or something. This is a real blow to all of the progress we women have made. I’m devastated. Who could have seen this coming? Whatever happened to The End of Men? Life is not fair!

Stop the presses, I want to get off.