The Sexist

“The Unemployable Man”: Still More Employable Than Woman


Last week, this graph accompanied a Wall Street Journal story on "The Unemployable Man," which delivered the "arresting" news that one in five men aged 25 to 54 are currently unemployed. "Women have suffered less in this recession," WSJ says. "They were more likely to be in health care and other jobs that weren't hit as hard as construction and manufacturing. They are increasingly likely to have the education so often required to get or keep a good job these days." As long as we're turning the unemployment crisis into an epic battle of the sexes in which men and women jockey for position over Bureau of Labor Statistics turf: Doesn't it bear mentioning that women in the same age group are still significantly less employed than men are?

  • Toysoldier

    Doesn’t it bear mentioning that women in the same age group are still significantly less employed than men are?

    Where does this claim come from? Does this claim factor in the women who choose not to work?

  • Anya

    @toysoldier. Unemployed= someone who is not employed, over the age of 15, has searched for work within the last 4 weeks, and is available to work. I'd guess that this claim comes from the statistics and graph which the original article provided. But this is clearly a matter of pure opinion and not a fact or anything.

  • mdesus

    absolutely it bears mentioning. It also bears mentioning that for like jobs women earn less all else being equal for all jobs that don't require a college degree (though for some positions that require a post graduate degree women earn significantly more than men do). More noteworthy than the remaining gap is the tremendous strides women have made in the last 30 years on closing both the employment and the wage gap. It is not worth discussing either issue without first noting that women have made, and continue to make, meteoric gains. I would be more interested in viewing these statistics for just the 25 to 40 age range. Also more interesting would be to see this divided along racial lines as well. If say we were dealing with only white people then the gap would be wider, but among african americans it would narrow substantially, and may in fact show completely different results. On the whole women still draw the short stick, but it's important not to forget that cultural changes take a long time to come into full effect, and by all measures women are making great strides.

  • Richard

    You know this, but the article points out that unemployment has risen higher and hurt men disproportionately more given their typical rate of employment as compared to women.

    The question I guess you ask is it really important to note still that more women are unemployed than men? I guess so, but it seems like this could be flawed in that I am guessing lots of these women are not 'employed', but are actually working disproportionately as a homemaker or mother.

  • Jesus Son


    That's the normal definition of unemployed, but if you look at the graph it looks simply at the percentage of Americans in total not those "seeking work in the last ____ months" (which is what it usually is) between 25-54 who are presently employed. So there is a valid point to be made about women who elect to not work and stay at home.

  • Amanda Hess

    OK. If we're disqualifying women who "elect to not work and stay home," then we'll also have to disqualify those men who have elected to not actively look for work, either. WSJ doesn't specify how many men that is, only that "Some are looking for work; some have given up."

    And if we're going to ignore the social and structural factors that encourage a disproportionate number of women to "elect" to stay home, then let's also ignore the social and structural factors preventing lower-class and minority-group men from "electing" to attend college and pursue career paths which actually lead toward job opportunities. In fact, if we write everything off as personal choice, then we don't have to worry about unemployment at all!

    Or, we could admit that there are social and structural factors that prevent women and minorities from being employed at higher rates and in better-paying jobs, and that we need to change these systems in order to find them work. For women, that may mean challenging the norm that it's women who must drop out of the workforce to go down the mommy track (instead of dads getting on the daddy track), and making sure that all families have adequate childcare. For minority men, that may mean subsidizing education and providing other social services to help support viable career paths. I don't know how to fix unemployment, but I do know how not to fix it: Writing it off as personal choice and calling it a day.

  • Eo

    This is life boat feminism. Whatever is happening its claimed that its effecting women more, even when its not.
    Its a belief in entitlement to victimhood and some kind ok pathological persuit of it.

    Most of the job losses are male, and Amanda its elect not "elect".

    "The interviews found that 85 of the students, or roughly 60 percent, said that when they had children, they planned to cut back on work or stop working entirely. About half of those women said they planned to work part time, and about half wanted to stop work for at least a few years. Two of the women interviewed said they expected their husbands to stay home with the children while they pursued their careers. Two others said either they or their husbands would stay home, depending on whose career was furthest along. The women said that pursuing a rigorous college education was worth the time and money because it would help position them to work in meaningful part-time jobs when their children are young or to attain good jobs when their children leave home. In recent years, elite colleges have emphasized the important roles they expect their alumni - both men and women - to play in society".

  • mdesus

    ok I am not sure if you were responding to me. My point is mostly that across the boards these things are changing. Also there is a very big difference between working at home (child care, or just caring for the house), and a man not working. In our culture relatively few men adopt the stay at home dad role, but many women do adopt that role. This is both a cultural, and a biological reality, and not simply a matter of personal choice. Nor is it something that erally needs to be changed in all cases. I think the people who have fought for equality really need to look at these gains as a massive positive for both sexes, and an increased degree of freedom enjoyed by both sexes. It gets much messier explaining away wage and employment gaps between races than it does between sexes. In general women have made universal gains to the benefit of both men and women.

  • Eo

    Womens groups have already derailed the jobs stimilus package there in the US, I think it only adDs insult to injury for victim feminists to continue trying to make women the victims out of the male job losses by spinning the media reportage of the fall out, it is very poor quality behaviour at a time when people should be pulling together. There is a very interesting wiki entry for "gender narcissism".

    "Men are bearing the brunt of the current economic crisis because they predominate in manufacturing and construction, the hardest-hit sectors, which have lost more than 3 million jobs since December 2007. Women, by contrast, are a majority in recession-resistant fields such as education and health care, which gained 588,000 jobs during the same period. Rescuing hundreds of thousands of unemployed crane operators, welders, production line managers, and machine setters was never going to be easy. But the concerted opposition of several powerful women's groups has made it all but impossible. Consider what just happened with the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

    Women's groups were appalled. Grids? Dams? Opinion pieces immediately appeared in major newspapers with titles like "Where are the New Jobs for Women?" and "The Macho Stimulus Plan." A group of "notable feminist economists" circulated a petition that quickly garnered more than 600 signatures, calling on the president-elect to add projects in health, child care, education, and social services and to "institute apprenticeships" to train women for "at least one third" of the infrastructure jobs. At the same time, more than 1,000 feminist historians signed an open letter urging Obama not to favor a "heavily male-dominated field" like construction: "We need to rebuild not only concrete and steel bridges but also human bridges." As soon as these groups became aware of each other, they formed an anti-stimulus plan action group called WEAVE--
    Women's Equality Adds Value to the Economy....."

  • DirkJohanson

    While I don't agree that all workplace disparities are the result of social and structural forces, I do agree that there are social and structural forces at play.

    For that reason, I propose that federal legislation be passed prohibiting marriage between a guy and woman when the guy makes more money than the woman. If the guy starts making more money after the marriage, the couple must deemed divorced under the law immediately.

    If such a law is passed, more women will be content with their husbands not working outside the home, and the norm will be successfully challenged.

    Problem solved.

  • Jesus son


    Whatever the realities of social norms are the truth is the graph doesn't differentiate between people who choose (yes, women can choose to stay at home, it's a choice whether or not you or I agree with it) not to work and people who are actively seeking work but are unemployed (which is how the numbers are normally calculated).

    I don't know how you can draw any conclusions from this information either way so why bother with it? Until they do an actual survey with information about women who wish their husbands would take care of the kids while they work, etc., what's the point of looking at a survey that isn't in tune with the topic you're looking to talk about.

    This is just basic college level statistics.

    And not that I care either way (I really don't) but the truth is male dominated fields have been more affected by the recession than female dominated fields. That's just the truth. That's the only thing you can draw from the graph.

  • Eo

    If guys refuse to support women if they decide on motherhood victim feminists cant come back and make out that society and men are victimising women by supporting them.

  • Richard

    "Or, we could admit that there are social and structural factors that prevent women and minorities from being employed at higher rates and in better-paying jobs, and that we need to change these systems in order to find them work."

    Exactly. No dispute there.

    My point was that you are connecting this issue to an article which I suppose is acknowledging the status quo, but not really promoting it in anyway. In fact, it does call for some systematic changes in the education system, etc to address general employment concerns.

    Also, looking at the article through the lens of structural inequities does not really contradict the central message of the article either, which is the less educated men are disproportionately affected by the recession in terms of unemployment.

  • Toysoldier

    If we’re disqualifying women who “elect to not work and stay home,” then we’ll also have to disqualify those men who have elected to not actively look for work, either.

    That is a false equivalence. Giving up looking for work is not the same as not wanting to work. The former means a person tried to find work but could not. The other means a person does not want to work at all. Since "unemployed" refers to those who want to work but are without jobs, it makes no sense to include people who do not want to work as part of that group.

    In order for your claim to hold water you must demonstrate that there are more women than men who do not work even though they want to. As others noted, the graph does not make any differentiation between the reasons why people lack employment, so I remain curious about the evidence that supports your assertion that "women in the same age group are still significantly less employed than men."

  • wavevector

    In the leafy, affluent, breeder community in which I live, most of the women that I know are either home full time with the kids or working part time. There are still plenty of women who choose to be a stay-at-home mom if they are married to an affluent man and can afford to do so.

  • eibhear

    Eo and Toysoldier,
    Would the pair of you not find it quicker and more pragmatic to simply write, "I hate females! They're not really human and don't deserve any human rights. Nah!"?

  • Tasha

    In RE to women who choose not to work--

    As the article outlines, the genesis for this can be found in the disparity in educational opportunities can't it? There are fewer males then females attending college, and fewer still going on to graduate programs.

    More men instead are either hitting the workforce immediately after high school (if they finish) or going on to a trade school then finding a more 'blue collar' type of job.

    Women are more represented in health and education related fields, and attain those slots because of their education. These fields have more flexible benefits and time off policies usually than blue collar jobs.

    These types of jobs are also more easily reurned to after an absence such as extended maternity leave, or even an absence of 4 or 5 years (frequently taken by women so they can remain at home with children until they are of school age.)

    In some areas of the world, trade positions are paid more than those positions in the health/eductational fields. So while typically female dominated fields offer greater flexibility and stress education a bit more, typically male dominated fields offer a greater rate of pay (this is not a gender driven pay gap, its a SKILL related pay gap - women in construction earn as much as men, and men in education earn as little as the women).

    Rate of pay to sustain a family with one wage earner (while one parent stays home with the child) and ability to return to the field after an extended absence are both the primary factors in deciding who stays home and who of course any statistics will show more men working.

    We also have more men than women who are technically out of the workforce because they are in Iraq or Afghanistan or otherwise committed to military service. I'd be curious to see if these jobs were included in the statistics.

    We are also in a huge recession-- the unemployment rate for both genders is high.

    Whenever you have these 2 things--war and recession--the working world mutates and things go a bit off for a bit. I would be more apt to attribute these sorts of statistics to these factors and a culture where it is assumed that the woman stays home and the man works than anything else.