The Changing Workplace
Two months ago, Anne Marie Slaughter wrote a controversial article for the Atlantic entitled “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” Slaughter, focusing on the elite job market (she had been a high ranking official in the State Department), discussed the changes that were needed in order to accommodate women (although the article pertains to involved fathers as well). I thought the biggest omission in her article was culture. Until the culture changes, and women are not seen as the primary caregivers, all the changes in rules or workplace practices, won’t make much of a difference. Well, it seems as if the Great Recession may be changing the culture, and it is not starting at the top, but rather at the bottom.
The Times has an article on a small town in Alabama where many of the men are out of work, and the women aren’t.
While millions of manufacturing jobs have been lost over the last decade, jobs in health, education and services have been added in about the same numbers. The job categories projected to grow over the next decade include nursing, home health care and child care. Of the 15 categories projected to grow the fastest by 2016 — among them sales, teaching, accounting, custodial services and customer service — 12 are dominated by women. These are not necessarily the most desirable or highest-paying jobs. But they do provide a reliable source of employment and a ladder up to the middle class. It used to be that in working-class America, men earned significantly more than women. Now in that segment of the population, the gap between men and women is shrinking faster than in any other, according to June Carbone, an author of “Red Families v. Blue Families.”
Sometimes we talk about policy and, meanwhile, the world changes around us. I think this change is one of the most significant ones happening right now and it will be a while before we understand its implications.