Female Workplace Advance Continues, More US Women Employed than Men
by Dan Ehrlich

It's official. For the first time in American history more women have jobs than men. Not that there's anything wrong with that…aside from the breakdown of the family amid role reversal. But, more worrying is why.

The destruction of our manufacturing base and continued slow down in heavy industry are given as main reasons. However, another factor may be our push for diversity and low wages. Many women are keeping their jobs simply because women are still paid less than men.

America initially achieved greatness as a meritocracy largely of white men. But, it still was a nation where hard work and intelligence paid dividends. Today, thanks largely to equal opportunities laws and an army of human resources professionals, reverse discrimination has become so prevalent; the white male professional may eventually become an endangered species.

I know this may seem hard to swallow unless you're a highly qualified Caucasian man who finds he is being beaten out for jobs by less experiences but more diverse applicants. And there’s some validity to this given the type of society urban America has become. The two main social movements of the 1960s, Black Power and the Women’s Movement effectively began the phase out employing people solely on merit.

Gradually, through the decades, America went from a society of intelligent and literate individuals to a diverse yet dumbed-down society with no general criteria for white-collar employment except being “a good fit” for a particular job. And this often meant hiring minorities, or any people for that matter, who would not be so highly experienced as to threaten the boss.

How about the media as an example? “Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.” This familiar tag to help wanted ads is fast becoming dated and discriminatory. That’s because in less than a generation men will probably be the new minority in journalism as they are now in the overall workplace. Nevertheless, the equal-ops bureaucracy, now firmly in place, will continue to operate on auto-pilot until someone has the balls to stop it.

For some time, men in the US media have been on the run. But no one has been chasing them. They've been leaving traditional journalistic jobs for better pay and excitement elsewhere. However, the advent of the blogosphere and more free news sites that can be counted has put an end to their high paid dreams. Today, much of the news business, as with America in general, is regressing, with journalists taking any low paid jobs they can get.

Yet, the irony here is, it was the 1960s Women’s Movement, designed to create equality in the work place, that's made news work so unacceptable for today's male. This along with fewer men than women attending universities could eventually lead to journalism being a largely female industry.

If the Women's Movement of the 1960s and 70s offered a prime example of rights and power won by an "oppressed" group, the media has become one of the best examples of how this group has steadily been turning the tables on its male counterparts.

Drunken, foul-mouthed reporters and editor's with tempers as fierce as Kansas tornadoes were common place in American newsrooms as late as the 1950s. It had long been argued such an atmosphere was no place for "the ladies."

"We can swear just as good as men," was the feminist reply. And the women's movement was born, along with the notion that swearing was only one small measure of their equality. Women were out to prove they could equal or better men at most things long considered macho preserves, including the press.

But, as it transpired, female reporters never had to test their creativity with four letter words...at least not for long. As is the case with most idealistic crusades in the USA, which prove economically advantageous, the women's movement was subverted to suit the needs of the corporate community. Hiring women was good business. Aside from their purchasing and political power, they would work for less money than men.

Yet wasn't the women's movement partly about raising their pay to make parity with men? Yes. However, once women were incorporated, for example, into the newsroom, it wasn't so much a case of their pay going up as it has been for male pay stagnating or in real terms even going down. This has led to men, feeling entitled to high paying jobs, leaving low paying news work in droves.

Economically, the movement became the main tool for America's fight back against cheap Japanese imports. For the press it was a way of keeping male staff in line while rationalising overheads.

The unpleasant and politically incorrect reality is much of this is due to women in the work place, an eager woman who still will work for less, while men who won't, simply do something else. Today, the more glamorous area of US news, television, is saturated with women news executives, especially in small to medium size market stations, where the pay is often mediocre to terrible.... terrible for men that is, but obviously not too unbearable for women.

The only thing that has changed is the time. The present high tech, low overhead era in which we live dictates the kind of publications we have. It goes back to the assumption that women could never fit into the rough and foul newsroom environment. That environment has long since died. Modern, well-lit computerised newsrooms, all in an era of political correctness, have replaced it, which is actually a misnomer for social correctness and charges such as sexual harassment, which grew out of equal opportunity regulations.

Today, any male reporter who smokes, swears and puts his arms around a female reporter while slurping coffee in the office could be sacked.

And here's where women may have an edge over men, their organisational skills and attention to small details making them easily adaptable to high tech IT lead media firms. Overall, women tend to be better organisers than men. Women being secretaries was largely based on their organisational abilities, something I think has its roots in marriage and motherhood. But that's irrelevant. Today it's more a case of men being able to fit into the work place, not women. It has nothing to do with who's more creative or gutsy. Adaptability equals survivability.

As for swearing in the newsroom, the other day I was talking by phone to a male US reporter about the job situation over there and let slip one of my politically incorrect profanities. No crusty old green visor wearing hack, he replied,” You’ll never get a job talking like that."

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