Thursday, August 26, 2010

It’s Not The Economy, Stupid. It’s Your Manly Bits

Ms. Magazine, has published an article “It Wasn’t Your Resume, It Was Your Vagina" in which it attempts to blame the fact that women cannot find jobs due to gender discrimination. The article conveniently ignores the fact that, for the first time in the American history, more men are out of work than women. They even gave this historical phenomenon a name: mancession.
The New York Times noticed this trend in February of 2009 and became a hot topic during the summer of that year. The Atlantic, in July of 2009, cited a statistic that "eighty percent of job losses in the last two years were among men." In August of 2009, Professor Mark J. Perry, who teaches economics and finance at the School of Management at the Flint campus at the University of Michigan pointed out in his blog that the trend could be traced back to December of 2006. However, some people even questioned whether or not the mancession was real. Despite the minority who question this phenomenon, it is real and it still is an ongoing economic issue. Some people think the mancession is now slowing down and others think the trend is reversing in which they're calling it a "He-covery."
Another interesting claim made in the Ms. Magazine article is that women are not performing as well as men in job interviews because they lack job certain job skills  that are usually associated as being a masculine trait:
"men tend to fare better than women on job interviews, particularly in male-dominated fields, where hiring managers tend to value stereotypically “masculine” qualities such as intellectual rigor and mathematical ability."
This claim fails for a number of reasons. HotAir, in covering the same Ms. Magazine article, has pointed out one reason why this argument doesn't fly:
"there are certain fields in which those characteristics – like mathematical ability -  are required, regardless of gender. It’s called, you know, job qualifications."
Another reason why this claim fails is that the same reason can be said about why men can't find jobs in this economy. They don't possess job skills generally associated with the feminine trait. Julia Margo, writing for the online version of Guardian newspaper, explains:
"The emerging knowledge economy demands a new, softer skill set – empathy, sociability, confidence, resourcefulness. Women are perceived as being better at soft skills, and now they count for more. In the course of just over a decade, Demos research found, these skills became central to life chances: for those who turned 30 in 2000, such character capabilities had become 33 times more important in determining earnings." 
So, which is it? Guys can't get jobs because they don't possess the softer skill set or girls can't get jobs because they don't have the masculine skill sets needed? Could it depend on the type of field that a male or female applicant is applying to? Could it be that today's workplace is looking for both soft and hard skill sets?
To be honest, the argument that women aren't getting hired because they have a vagina isn't very convincing. As I explained above, there is a plausible case to made that men aren't getting hired because they have a penis. But I don't find that argument convincing either. 

Quite frankly, it seems to me that the fact that men and women are having difficulty finding employment has less to do with gender discrimination than it does with education, experience and the type of industry that a person is trying seek to enter into. It also has to do with the current state of the economy and the fact that many industries are going through changes to keep up with the pace of the evolution in technology.  I also suspect that our poor economy and the uncertainty about the government's expansion into the economy could also be a factor in why its hard for men and women to get hired for a job.
Let me make myself clear. I'm not saying men have it harder in finding a job than women do or that men have it harder than women do. A plausible case could me made that having a vagina or a penis can be a barrier to finding a job. I'm not denying that gender discrimination doesn't occur in hiring or in employment either. All I'm saying is that people can't find a job because of their gender isn't the best explanation for why men and women can't find a job. 

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