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In this month’s issue of the Atlantic Hannah Rosin breaks down the astonishing statistics on how women are overtaking men in the workplace.”The attributes that are most valuable today—social intelligence, open communication, the ability to sit still and focus—are, at a minimum, not predominantly male. In fact, the opposite may be true,” writes Rosin.
Men still make more money than women in a comparable position. But Rosin points out that women are poised to control most of the sectors slated for the greatest growth over the next 10 years; fields like nursing, home health assistance, child care, food preparation.
Men are left leading in only two growth areas: computer engineering and janitorial work.
In the white-collar workplace, men’s physical strengths and aggressive tendencies are increasingly out of step. Rosin cites statistics from the Bureau of labour which show that women now account for 51.4% per cent of managers in America, nearly double that in 1980 (when it was just 26.1 per cent.)
A white-collar economy values raw intellectual horsepower, which men and women have in equal amounts. It also requires communication skills and social intelligence, areas in which women, according to many studies, have a slight edge. Perhaps most important—for better or worse—it increasingly requires formal education credentials, which women are more prone to acquire, particularly early in adulthood.
If education is any guide to the future, these trends will only accelerate. Women represent 60 % of new master’s degrees, around 50% of all law and medical degrees, and 42% of all M.B.A.s. “Most important, women earn almost 60% of all bachelor’s degrees—the minimum requirement, in most cases, for an affluent life,” Rosin adds.
At the very top of this trend, the theory stalls stalls out a bit. Women have never made up more than 3% of the CEOs on the Fortune 500 list. At the executive level, the glass ceiling seems to be holding. But that’s not necessarily a good thing for American business.
Rosin points to a 2008 Columbia Business school study of 1,500 U.S. companies that found firms with women in senior management performed better. “This was especially true if the firm pursued what the researchers called an “innovation intensive strategy,” in which, they argued, “creativity and collaboration may be especially important”—an apt description of the future economy.”
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