Well, it’s finally happened. There is an advantage to being a woman in business. I’m still surprised, but the Wall Street Journal reported it and there’s data to back it up. During the economic down turn, it was better to be a working woman than a working man. That’s great news, but I’m also sad with the results.
Here’s what happened. Revised data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that women held about 720,000 more non farm payroll jobs than men in January. They also exceeded the number of men on the payroll during four months last year. More women have kept their jobs. Yeah! That makes me happy.
I’m not cheering that men are doing poorly. I am cheering that women are empowering themselves to be financially secure.
How did it get this way? Times have changed. Men have traditionally needed less education because they can get good jobs in construction without advanced degrees. Women can’t. That’s why education is so important for women. It gives them the credentials to compete for good paying jobs. Minimum wage jobs don’t require advanced education and they’re often just dead end jobs for women.
One single mother in the article said that in this recession without her well paying job as a medical social worker, she would have had to work two or three jobs at a Wal-Mart or McDonald’s to support her 9-year old son. She had returned to college after her son was born.
Women have been steadily increasing in numbers in the ranks of those getting bachelor’s degrees. The U.S. Department of Education reports that women were earning about 166 associates degrees and 135 bachelor’s degrees for every 100 earned by men in 2007. Also, more women were employed in teaching, government and health care, too. These sectors held up better in the recession. Cheers for both degrees and jobs.
So that’s the good news.
But, there’s sad news, too. The workplace is also changing. The same Wall Street Journal had another article which reported that more jobs are being created in fields that require higher education. With fewer men getting degrees, women will have an employment advantage. That’s bad news for men and our country. Why? We have a world economy today and we have to have the best educated work force, both men and women, to compete there.
Jobs are getting exported overseas and are not coming back. The article says that about a quarter of the 8.4 million jobs eliminated since the recession began won’t be coming back. The jobs that are being created are often in fields that require higher education. If men are unable to qualify for those jobs, our society is trying to compete in the world marketplace with only half our human resources. That’s not good.
Despite that issue, today I’m cheering for women at work. It would be better if I were cheering for everyone at work, not just women. That’s just not going to happen today. So hip hip hooray for women in business. You’re holding your own at work.