The Recession Is Good News For Gender Equality


The recession has meant good news for folks who value equality over growth. The gap between the haves and the have-nots has shrunk, as investment portfolios collapse and Wall Street jobs evaporate. And it’s even good for gender equality, as the NYT explains today:

The proportion of women who are working has changed very little since the recession started. But a full 82 per cent of the job losses have befallen men, who are heavily represented in distressed industries like manufacturing and construction. Women tend to be employed in areas like education and health care, which are less sensitive to economic ups and downs, and in jobs that allow more time for child care and other domestic work.

By one measure, women now make up 49.1% of the workforce, which means that if trends continue they could account for the majority of workers.


The article notes that women tend to have lower-paying jobs without benefits, but unasked is whether any real or fictitious wage gap has a positive effect on female employment. In otherwords, if at a given company, women tend to be paid less (for whatever reason — more time off, less of an inclination to ask for a raise, sexism) does that make them safer in the job come layoff time? Simple economic thinking would say yes, but we haven’t seen anyone do that.

Meanwhile, the article reminds us, men still suck at performing an equal share of housework, even when they’re unemployed. After the few tidbits about changes in employment levels, that’s pretty much what the whole article is about.