IT Employment

Men: You may want to rethink your position

It's often said that when we think about unemployment rates, you're either 100% employed, or 100% unemployed. In this article, executive leadership coach John M McKee says we now need to include gender in our thinking as well.

 On the hiring front, there's a growing amount of good news. Overall, levels are improving. However, the ratio of those getting back into the workforce is decidedly skewed toward women. U.S. unemployment figures continue to show that, to a large extent, we are in a "he-cession." Men are finding it tougher to get back into the workforce.

Most forecasters expect that we'll have a national unemployment rate in the area of about 8.5% by the end of 2011. Several states -- notably California and New York -- are expected to remain in the 12% range because of the impact of industries like construction or manufacturing that haven't yet bounced back. Those industries, dominated by guys, pay more than service groups like hospitality or retail.

On the other hand, sectors such as healthcare and education, traditionally dominated by women, have weathered the storm better. They've also been faster to start ramping up. As a result of all these and other factors, the unemployment rate for men is running about 2.5% higher.

Nearly all forecasters expect this female-to-male variance to continue for years to come, leading them to believe that a high level of unemployment seems to be the "new normal." (One prominent forecaster believes the overall hiring situation may be even worse.)

Demographically, nearly all studies agree that the male/female skewing will be impacted by the following:

  • Since the 1970s, compensation levels have increased for every education level for women. At the same time, they have declined for men.
  • Women's education levels are rising faster than guys'. More women are graduating from college than ever before.
  • More new business start-ups are being driven by females than males. In the tech sector, the advantage that once favored men seems to be swinging in a similar fashion with increased value being placed on communication skills and social awareness over a given system's details.

Which brings me back to this:

There are many men who still view the world like it was ten years ago. Without modifying their perspective and behavior, they are in danger of becoming yesterday's news and losing relevance in the career ladders.

In case you think I'm overstating this idea of men being mired in the past, consider this:  A while back, our own Toni Bowers wrote a blog. She was commenting on sexism in the IT community specifically -- but what she wrote could apply in other sectors just as easily. The reaction she got was huge -- over 600 comments, many of which seemed to be written by guys who are still living in decades past.

The world is changing. Smart people make adjustments when they see trends that cannot be held back. As a gender, many of us males need to reconsider where we are and how we act. We need to ask ourselves hard questions about our future and adjust.

Here's to your future....

John

Leadership Coach

About

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...

69 comments
LocoLobo
LocoLobo

"Men: You may want to rethink your position" About what? My gender? I'm not changing that soon. "There are many men who still view the world like it was ten years ago. Without modifying their perspective and behavior, they are in danger of becoming yesterday?s news and losing relevance in the career ladders." OK. What modifications are you suggesting? H3ck! I don't even have a career ladder. Losing relevance? Maybe. "The world is changing. Smart people make adjustments when they see trends that cannot be held back. As a gender, many of us males need to reconsider where we are and how we act. We need to ask ourselves hard questions about our future and adjust." OK. Color me stupid. What are the hard questions? HOW do we adjust? Just my opinion, but this article is too vague. It throws out the sex, sexism question but doesn't really bring any new facts or ideas.

deetomarto
deetomarto

How about we try viewing people as people, not a gender.

mjstelly
mjstelly

Being an expert "he-ceder", I can speak with some authority on this topic. "I've been laid off so many times..." There's a joke in there somewhere if it weren't so true. Every time the economy hiccups, I lose my job. I'm beginning to take it personally. Dotcom bubble-bursting -- lost job. Underemployed for 3 years. Housing bubble-bursting -- lost job. Underemployed 1+ year and rising. I am part of the new demographic. NPR cited a survey that for the first time in US History, Women have surpassed men as the top household wage-earners. Does that mean women have finally closed the "wage gap"? Unfortunately, no. It reflects the fact that the majority of jobs lost in recent years were held by men. So, if the woman works, she's the top, and only, household wage-earner. So -- epic fail on both sides of the gender aisle. Nonetheless, I consider myself fortunate. My wife has a great job she enjoys. She is well-respected and well-paid. Otherwise, I'd be SOL.

khiggins1979
khiggins1979

Sexism in IT is working exactly the way our DNA intended. we are allocated, us humans, by our penis and vaginas Anthropology, Sociology and Economic theory dictates when environments are abundant females will dominate, in times of scarcity, males will assume control. It's not as if we are seperate entities (males and females) we are all humans. It is our nature, not as humans but as living organisms. males are disposable, if all man-kind were reduced to a mere 10 people we would die as a species if more than 3 of them were male. This theme persists in all of our endeavours: males pioneering and females sustaining. It doesn't matter what industry, political system or economic model you compare it against. It's Charles Dawkins at his finest.

joe
joe

One aspect that appears to have been overlooked is the compensation gap. Employers may be quicker to fill positions with women if they believe they can get away with paying less for the same skill set. Coming out of a recession (assuming we are, of course, which is another discussion entirely), hiring is being done judiciously, and it will be interesting to see if the gender pay gap closes or grows during this time. If a real economic growth trend emerges, it might be a golden opportunity for women in all fields to close the gap and let employers know they have to pay fairly to get anyone competent.

mtndive
mtndive

I claim it is rabble rousing because it has what I consider to be the hallmarks of the form. First, there is 'evidence' given but it is not related to any clearly stated contention. Second, the statements made are chosen to evoke a visceral response. Several statements made in the article are vague and leave too much interpretation to the reader. Examples: "Since the 1970s, compensation levels have increased for every education level for women. At the same time, they have declined for men." From this statement it could be inferred that women are making more money than men, or it could be inferred that compensation levels are continuing to converge. Last time I checked, women were still being paid less for a given job than men, typically, although the wage disparity has been decreasing for many years. "Women?s education levels are rising faster than guys?. More women are graduating from college than ever before." Again, does this mean that more women are graduating from college than men, or merely that the number of women going to college is increasing? Even if more women are graduating than men, does that really mean anything to a given individual? What point is supposed to be made by this statement? Those previous two statements are bullet points in the article, but why? Near the end of the article he writes: "There are many men who still view the world like it was ten years ago. Without modifying their perspective and behavior, they are in danger of becoming yesterday?s news and losing relevance in the career ladders." So, here is my understanding of John's point in this article: "While it was okay for men to be sexist 10 years ago, it isn't okay now because men are losing power and influence in the workplace. So wise up, or them women-folk are gonna git ya."

dhearne
dhearne

I wonder why Toni got such a strong response? In an industry that is strongly male dominated we find the following, quoted from the article: * Since the 1970s, compensation levels have increased for every education level for women. At the same time, they have declined for men. * Women?s education levels are rising faster than guys?. More women are graduating from college than ever before. * More new business start-ups are being driven by females than males. So, women are paid more, women are more educated, women own more small businesses, and are better at 'social skills', which are now more valuable than technical skills. Finally, the article extols men to 'stop living in the past' or run the risk of being obsolete in the workplace. Hmmm. Seems to me like the ladies have won! And yet, there is still complaining and whining from (some of) our female colleagues. Not because of substantive issues, but because of some nuanced, female interpretation of how a workplace 'should' be. I get paid less, and I'm still expected to put a new water bottle in the cooler or be involved with any task that requires manual labor. Here's a fun test guys, next time you're refilling the water cooler, go ahead and ask your female co-workers to 'straighten up the breakroom a bit' and see what kind of response you get. Apparently, it is OK to assign traditional gender roles to men, but not to women.

bgrimsle
bgrimsle

There is an entire shelf-load of books documenting the massive discrimination against men these days. We get to suffer almost all the war deaths, do virtually every dangerous job (doesn't seem to be any call to "fix" that), get sent to jail far more frequently, and longer, for the same crime, get little attention from sexist teachers, get portrayed as the "dumb guy" in every movie and sitcom, etc., etc. etc., ad nauseum. Meanwhile endless "reverse discrimination" laws unfairly favor females. You know what was different 10 years ago? The massive discrimination agianst males was a LITTLE LESS PRONOUNCED. Yeah, that would be nice to go back to. Meanwhile, if my program doesn't work correctly, hey, maybe I can use those oh-so-valuable "people skills" to make it work. (Notice the implication that females are better than men at this. Of course men are far superior to women in logical thinking, math, etc. Oh, wait a minute, to point out anything men might be better at is a capital crime! Shame on me! I'm supposed to devote all my energy to only noticing areas that women are supposedly better at!) The massive reaction to that earlier post was entirely justified. Men are taught to be stoic non-complainers, but we're at our breaking point in a world of whining, everything-for-me-nothing-for-you females who want an already unbalanced system tilted 100% in their favor. It's about time we start putting our foot down and ending this garbage.

Zithrob
Zithrob

Three years ago, my job was eliminated in a corporate merger. Six months later, the location was closed. The women in the company were re-employed faster than the men, and most were hired at a higher salary. I AM thankful to be employed in this economy, but I feel like my experience, gender and age are more a liability than an asset. Can't get younger, seems silly to ignore what I've done for 25 years, and a sex-change is an unappealing and expensive alternative. As 50+ year old male in IT, earning 20% less than I did three years ago, things aren't looking particularly bright. What can be done?

dwdino
dwdino

When female unemployment reaches 100% and warm dinners and newspapers are waiting at home, then we will truly have a strong workforce.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm more than willing to let the ladies get on top for a while. What??? Like you weren't thinking something similar.

melias
melias

"More new business start-ups are being driven by females than males. In the tech sector, the advantage that once favored men seems to be swinging in a similar fashion with increased value being placed on communication skills and social awareness over a given system?s details." Have you seen how much preference is given to female or ethnic owned businesses? In the Federal Government and most large corporations (P&G sized) there is usually an absolute number of dollars that HAVE to be spent on "minority" owned businesses. Of COURSE female startup businesses would do better. That's why there are so many startup businesses that are at least on paper owned by women. That's just good business. This is not meant to be denigrating to women. Whether, this is a tactic used for other "minority" owned businesses, such as nationality or ethnicity. And no, I do NOT mean all such businesses are minority owned on paper only, just some.

jjheinis
jjheinis

This is the consequence of affirmative action. When there is affirmative action, there is discrimination in favor of those who have been previously discriminated against.

RechTepublic
RechTepublic

The gender war is eternal thanks to people like you. You could have just made a positive statement about how women are doing better in the workforce than men and backed it up with some REAL references. Instead, you used it as a platform to tell "men" that they are living in the past and crafted unsupported facts to support your sexist argument. I think you have some rethinking to do yourself.

dogknees
dogknees

The world is not "changing", it "changed" 30 years ago. It's about time people caught up.

AV .
AV .

The healthcare and education sectors, traditionally dominated by women, have grown far faster than IT, a traditionally male-dominated field, which is probably why more women are employed now than men. As far as IT goes, I think men need to be more receptive to women that are just as qualified as them. IT is still very much an "old boys network" and that needs to change. As the only female Net Admin at several jobs I held, I can say that even though I was part of the team and they respected me, I always felt like an outsider. AV

deetomarto
deetomarto

...arrogance isn't demographically specific.

jkameleon
jkameleon

Race, gender etc... that's all about "divide et impera", setting people against one another.

valduboisvert
valduboisvert

Actually some socio-economics analyst say is the other way around. Bull market periods seem to be dominated by male figures while during recessions females seems to take control. There are plenty of hypothesis why this happen but in the end it is clearly a noticeable social pattern. I believe understanding this issue scientifically and letting aside our preconceptions and personal vendettas is the way to go. nice post.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

What's up ladies? Any counter-points? As a man, maybe I'll take 3 months off to take care of my newborn baby and see how that's viewed in the workplace. And the next person that uses the term "reverse-discrimation" is going to get a virtual punch in the face. There's no such thing. It's either discrimination or not. Saying "reverse-discrimination" implies that only minorities can be discriminated against and in the "rare" cases that it's the other way around, we have to create a "special" word for that. Give me a goddam break. We live in a f***ed up society that thinks equality is treating minorities better than the majority. Men are always portrayed as buffoons and idiots on TV. It's like white people in anything directed by Tyler Perry. Men have been conditioned over the years to just accept it even to the point of self-deprication. Think about it, would you feel appalled watching a movie or TV show where the woman was a complete idiot? Secondly, why has being a stay at home mom become a denigrating thing in today's society? Why is raising kids and taking care of the household seen as something contemptible? Why have women defined this as something as lowly as digging ditches and scooping up road-kill? We need to come to the realization that men and women aren't equal creatures. Not being equal doesn't make one greater than the other. A fork and knife aren't equal in form or function, but try enjoying a nice juicy steak without one or the other. Both are equal in value. Men and women are complementary creatures. They both complement the weaknesses of the other.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

The article says "increased" not above or comparable to men's salaries. Toni's article was a specific comparison about the comparability of salaries to responsibility between sexes. I do feel that any time money and energy is disproportionally applied to any one demographic that the stats (salary level, education level, etc.) will increase. I think this has been proven by several studies. However, I am apposed to the insistence that a particular demographic should be balanced in a particular career field just because it is seen as a "more important" or "better paying" career field. I believe that men and women gravitate towards things they like and if women don't like the IT field they we should not be trying to force them into it. Bill Edited to change Teri to Toni. I believe he is referencing Toni's article on glass walls. Just copied the name without thinking.

jvoyles
jvoyles

Social skills are not gender specific. Neither are math and logic skills. People should be recognized for and should recognize in themselves the skills they posses as individuals with out regard to gender, race, nationality, ect... Everyone at some point has to deal with being discriminated against for some reason. It's not right. The only way I know of to stop it is for each of those individuals who possess those skills to make sure their attitude is on of fairness and looking at individuals as just that individuals not men or women or whatever stereotype you want to apply. Check yourself, teach the next generation and anyone else in the current or older generation who is open to listening. Then do the best you can with the situation.

gmichaels
gmichaels

Like you, I'm 50+ and had 15 years of experience in IT. I've been unemployed over a year and I'm not getting any younger. In four years I can start collecting my SS benefits, and in five I'll have all my pensions coming in -- for a whopping $2200 per month! Quite a come down from making over $100K in 1999/2000.

eM DuBYaH
eM DuBYaH

Z., I'm in the same boat as yourself. I'm 44, making 60% of what I did 3 years ago, and I don't see things looking bright at all for myself. I'm jumping ship. In fact, today, I start my undergrad in criminal justice. That's one industry I won't have to worry about.

Regina55
Regina55

Just wanted to say Hi, melias - I'm from Amelia, Ohio!

blhelm
blhelm

That is exactly what Affirmative Action is all about. Think about those two words from the start - taking positive action against those who where in the majority to the point where THEY become the minority (or at least made to feel like they are the minority) by giving preferential treatment to the real minority. This preferential treatment includes a "free pass" on several fronts including what they say and what they do.

seanferd
seanferd

So many men denied jobs in health care because of preferential treatment of women. Pfft.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

Toni's article was on the negative aspects affecting women's ability to progress in their career. How is this different except that John is suggesting that men change (wait, that's what Toni's article said too)? Bill

valduboisvert
valduboisvert

Tony article and this one are good proof for this.

seanferd
seanferd

You see absolutely no domination or marginalization or patronization of women by the Patriarchal aspects of our cultures? (Yeah, I used a capital pee.)

Kenone
Kenone

This is the most sexist blog (I'm assuming) that I've read in a long time. If it had been skewed the other way there would be screaming!

LightVelocity
LightVelocity

Did the author start with the title and add (rather made up) the contents? or vice versa? It appears to be the former. The only data used is the no of women getting re employed. Some insights on why this is happening (e.g., which are the sectors that are reemploying) would be more helpful in accepting the message

mgasperoni
mgasperoni

No one has mentioned the elder-cession... is male/female a factor there?

jkameleon
jkameleon

> I can say that even though I was part of the team and they respected me, What more can you possibly expect? > I always felt like an outsider. I believe that making you feel like an insider is not part of your coworker's job description.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

This recession has negatively affected two industries: Construction and manufacturing (mainly auto). Healthcare and education (and other public sector jobs) are booming in this economy. On the surface it's easy to see that the construction and manufacturing sectors are disproportionately male-dominated while the healthcare and education fields are disproportionately female-dominated. Face it, public education will always have funding since it's a taboo to take money away from "the children". Additionally, healthcare has benefitted from the recession with the government pumping billions and even trillions into it. Add to this the fact that now, public sector employees make more money than the private sector. I wish we had more context behind these numbers since statistics can be misinterpreted as much as scripture.

khiggins1979
khiggins1979

I believe bull-markets (short periods of unsustainable economic growth) are a mere by-product of the free-market business cycle. The gender of the leaders/captains of industry during such periods is half-chance. I think that scope is too narrow in this context; bull markets last half a dozen years at best. I'm arguing to embrace more long term (3 generation+) trends; Comparing bedouin culture vrs amazon culture is a decent example. In our society, industries that have been saturated as a functional necessity; healthcare, education, and now information technology, are traditionally dominated by females. The pirates of silicon valley were brave and ambitious boys. We needed them and rewarded them very kindly. But it is important to understand that for every Bill Gates or Steve Jobbs out there, a hundred thousand other boys didn't make the cut. The author danced around the real question: It's not why did these boys eat ramen noodles and hard boiled eggs while working 80 hours a week coding and fiddling with motherboards, but why didn't females? I think that answer is hidden deep in our survival code; buried deep within our DNA.

kkarney
kkarney

the problem with rejecting the concept of affirmative action out of hand is that rejecting it assumes a level playing field to begin with, which of course there isn't as far as race, gender, and sexual orientation go (which of course is why affirmative action happens in the first place)... the idea that the best qualified person will always get the job is patently ridiculous -- it would be nice if it were true, but it's not. the more i get to know the stories of women, African-Americans, gay people, etc. the more i actually think they DO deserve a little weighting in their favor... after all the white straight males have pretty much had control of everything for centuries... now of course, a lot of us white straight males would argue that we've been in control for the simple reason that we're better qualified for the job to begin with... i disagree with that -- i think it's because we're just better at the game of domination and subjugation... with a little evolution, we might realize that it's time to step back and give the other humans a chance to shine -- they just might have some things to offer from which we all can benefit.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

has said that males discriminating against females isn't still going on in places. What I hear is the cry of "foul" due to some very vocal anti-men women living double standards. (IOW: It's OK for them to discriminate against men, put them down, and "in their place" but if a man were to try that to them... then crucify them as a message to the world while they castrate the rest of the men so they can't do it.) BOTH practices are wrong, double standards on such behavior should not be tolerated just as much, if not more so, as the original harmful wrong behavior.

RechTepublic
RechTepublic

I think you responded to the wrong Post. (Yeah, I used a capital pee too)

dogknees
dogknees

What this article speaks about has been a given for 30 years. It seems that some are still trying to get to where they should have been then, let alone where they should be now.

jkameleon
jkameleon

Percentage of women among college graduates is higher than among older IT workers. As older folks gets squeezed out & replaced, percentage of women employed is higher. BTW, I've noticed an interesting phenomena in the Hewelett-Packerd branch located in the building where I live. A bunch of young women work there. Imagine the female version of the geekiest, most stereotypical geek imagineable- that's how they look like. Skinny, spectacled, oddly shaped, oddly dressed, with laptops over their shoulders. And in all theese years I've been working in that building, I've never noticed a single male geek exiting the lift in HP's storey.

AV .
AV .

If the team consists of 1 woman and 5 men, its isolating for the woman because its a very male-dominated environment. It would be the same if it was 5 women and 1 man. It just isn't a good balance for a work environment. AV

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

It can be difficult to figure out, sometimes, who's hands are tied by a FEDERAL LAW/Regulation and who will hide their own bigotry behind such a law/regulation. As far as the hiring goes, I with you. THE best candidate for the job is the one I'd hire (in your example, person 1.)

jasondlnd
jasondlnd

@kkarney, you said "the more i get to know the stories of women, African-Americans, gay people, etc. the more i actually think they DO deserve a little weighting in their favor". Why? Three people apply for the same job that has requires a skillset of A, B, and C. Person 1 has qualifications A, B, and C. Person 2 has qualifications B and C, and a tiny bit of A. Person 3 has only the qualification A. Who would you hire? Quite frankly, I would hire person 1. It doesn't matter if that person is male or female, African-American, Latino, Caucasian, or otherwise. That person is the most qualified. To hire someone based upon race, gender, or even sexual preference proves that the hiring manager or the Company has issues with racism or sexism. Companies and/or hiring managers who practice Affirmative Action should be seen for the racists, sexists, and bigots they really are.

seanferd
seanferd

So, maybe, sort of, but not really. I was responding to the sentiments that somehow mentioning sexism here is perpetuating the appearance of sexism, as if it does not really exist. It sure as heck does. But I accept your criticism, and shall attempt to be more targeted in the future. I will help keep muy post count up. :D Oh, and edit: Yeah, positive examples are great, as long as they don't bury the negative aspects still in existence. Positive examples are frequently used in the, "Well, we already gave you A, B, and C, what are you still complaining about?" Of course all men do not behave or think this way, but you can't pretend the phenomenon is no longer extant. Not to say that I don't have criticisms of the article as well. As in, I'm not exactly sure what the "rethink" should entail. I mean, do I become a woman and go into healthcare, or what?

CompuMom
CompuMom

Just wondering, are you joking, or are you a jerk? Scary if this is really your attitude.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

Crippling one group to give another a better chance is just as wrong as not giving the other group a chance. As far as shoe on the other foot. Agreed, and it's a double standard. Just like the double standard of one ethnic group calling each other derogatory and demeaning words, yet someone else of another ethnic background comes along, uses the same word(s) in the same reference and sentence, and the real-world translation is "I have decided I wish to die now." AND as you said women love the power of "sexual harassment" prosecution given to them. Albeit, it was one needed, it now can be very easily abused and used like a club to get what they want. (NOT all women will do this, but enough will.) As I've noted elsewhere, I'm all for the best person for the job, irregardless of gender or ethnicity.

jkameleon
jkameleon

What's that? OK, let me check the Wikipedia... oh... another 1990 style management fad. The last time I've encountered one of those was near the end 1980s, when management fads were first introduced. My first reaction was to look for new job in a hurry, possibly for new profession. At the end, I had to choose between becoming a chimney stack sensor serviceman in Bosnia, and free lance programmer. I choosed the latter, because the political situation seemed somewhat dicey. I'd never put up with any kind of diversity training, morale boosting, positive thinking, drug testing employee engagement crap, no matter what. Such things make me wanna puke. I'd rather become a forklift operator, or whatever http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oB6DN5dYWo

blhelm
blhelm

Even if there were a few neanderthals left in the IT world, we have all been hammered with diversity training for the past decade (plus). Conversly, women have been getting a free pass in their communication and management styles.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

Try having been the sole I.T. guy in a quality department dominated by female nurses. You remember all those counseling session about jokes in the workplace? Shoe's on the other foot. Worse, try to take part in the workplace banter, and you'd get reported for it. Was enough to mke you want to throw all that diversity training out the window and turn into a positively neanderthal kind of guy. There are still barriers there, but they're not from guys any more, their from the "ladies".

jkameleon
jkameleon

You are part of the team, you are professionaly respected, what else do you want? A female company for female chatter?

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