Can men adjust to a changing world?

The Florida Times-Union | November 14, 2013

What’s going on with boys? Even women are noticing.

Hanna Rosin, in her book “The End of Men,” has noticed some disturbing trends.

The title is figurative, referring to career and marriage especially.

But there are long-term trends that are literal.

The suicide rate for boys is five times the girls’ rate between 20 and 24, reports author Warren Farrell.

Christina Hoff Sommers in her book “The War Against Boys” notes:

■ More boys than girls are suspended from school, held back and drop out.

■ Boys are three times as likely as girls to be in special education programs.

■ Boys are four times as likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.

■ More boys than girls are involved in crime, alcohol and drugs.

The statistics are out there. As Rosin writes:

■ In 2009, for the first time in American history, the balance of the workforce tipped toward women.

■ In 2011, women held 51 percent of managerial and professional jobs — up from 26 percent in 1980.

■ Women are breaking through in previously all-male professions. For instance, women have risen from 8 percent of pharmacists in 1960 to almost 60 percent today.

■ Of the 30 professions projected to add the most jobs over the next decade, women dominate in 20 (nursing, accounting, home health assistants, childcare, food prep).

COLLEGE CHANGES

Increasingly, women are dominating in college, too. Women earn almost 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees.

All of the progress among women should be supported and celebrated. But the slippage among men has not been realized or appreciated.

In 2009, salaries for men were the same as in 1969 adjusting for inflation. It’s worse when accounting for fewer men working full-time or imprisoned.

Michael Greenstone, an MIT economist and former chief economist on the White House Council of Economic Advisers for President Barack Obama, called the lack of wage opportunities for men “the single most destructive social force of our era.”

The single man has made hardly any financial gains since the 1970s.

THE MANCESSION

Sociologist Kathryn Edin: “The men were just annihilated in the recession of the ’90s and things never got better. Now it’s just awful.

“The whole country’s future could look much as the present does for many lower class African-Americans.”

In fact, women have recovered all the jobs they lost in the Great Recession but men are still 2.1 million jobs short, The Associated Press reported.

Construction and manufacturing have been hard hit, whereas women dominate in service occupations like retail, education and health care.

Rosin visited Auburn, Ala., to see this trend played out in a traditional, conservative area. The median income for women is 140 percent of the median income of men.

“First generation college-educated white women may join their black counterparts in a new kind of middle class where marriage is increasingly rare,” she wrote.

As Author Summers writes, “Quietly, some educators will tell you that it is boys, not girls, who are on the fragile side of the gender gap.”

FAIRNESS FOR ALL

Reversing the positions of the sexes in an unfair system should be no one’s idea of justice.

Some of the values of flexibility and resiliency that have been connected with femininity must be related to the male culture.

It’s just possible that all-male education, especially in the crucial middle-school years, should be given a try.

It has been used in private and parochial systems for generations but unfortunately has been connected with inequality. But that does not have to be the case.

“No one denies that boys’ aggressive tendencies must be checked and channeled in constructive ways,” Summers wrote.

“Boys need discipline, respect and moral guidance. Boys need love and tolerant understanding. They do not need to be pathologized.

“If you are an optimist, as I am, you believe that good sense and fair play will prevail.”

This is not a zero-sum game.

Like universal education, men and women can prosper together. But first we must recognize the issue.

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