David Brooks’ thought provoking column in this week’s NY Times,“Why Men Fail,” argues that women adapt better to social and economic change than men do. Consequently, American women are moving upward economically while men are in an economic decline. According to the statistics Brooks quotes, annual earnings for males declined 28% in the past 40 years.
One theory supporting the upward economic mobility of women is that during times of social change, the people at the top (males) resist change. They wait for—even fight for—things to go back to the old order. People at the bottom of the economic ladder (women) take advantage of change to improve their own position. Certainly, statistics about the number of women currently earning college degrees (60%) support this theory.
Brooks quotes from a book by Hanna Rosin, The End of Men, which claims that women today have freed themselves from old stereotypes of masculine and feminine behavior while men have not. Our son, Techie, sees this in the tech industry where he works—and he criticizes women who have given up their roles as child-bearers and nurturers.
I think it’s unfair to blame women for the social changes that allow them opportunities to advance economically—and it’s not my place to judge the personal choices of others. But while I believe in the right of every couple to determine their individual roles and responsibilities for their own family, I don’t think we can wish our society back to the 1950s.
I suspect the problem of stagnant growth and member retention which the Mormon Church is currently experiencing could be solved if the 50% at the bottom of the power structure had an equal voice in policy making.