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....