'End Of Men' Heralds New Era Of Female Dominance

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Women have fought tirelessly to establish equal footing for themselves in relationships, politics and the workplace, and according to writer Hanna Rosin, they've finally arrived.

In her new book, The End of Men: And The Rise of Women, Rosin argues that the U.S. has entered an era of female dominance.


Interview Highlights

On how the rise of women is largely an economic story

"Women make up about half the workforce and the majority of college degrees — which these days is the prerequisite to success in this world. But ... I discovered that this had seeped into the fabric of our lives — our intimate relationships, our marriages, all the decisions we make in life — and that was the big surprise in reporting the book."

On shifts in the workforce that sparked shifts at home

"The latest job numbers show that men are at their lowest labor force participation rate since 1948. They also show that the manufacturing economy has lost almost 6 million jobs, and just about the same number of jobs were added in the health-care industry and the service economy which are largely dominated by women. You can see right there that that creates a different kind of economy.

"If our assumption is that the men are the breadwinners ... that men carry the family, when that dynamic shifts, you can see that relationships shift with it. So we have to redefine what we mean by 'head of the household' ... by 'manly virtues,' and what women do, and what men do, and how marriage works, and who raises the children. All these things start to change along with it."

On the disappearance of American manufacturing jobs

"It's sad ... it's a tragedy. I think we're in a transition moment where men have to rethink what they want to do and we as a society have to figure out what we want to do. ... A lot of men who were able to live a very respectable middle-class and even upper-middle-class existence doing essentially brawn jobs can no longer do that. So what do you do with that fact? You're not going to have every man become a nurse or have every man become a profession that we consider feminized because I think men are uncomfortable with that idea.

"... I think that the million-dollar question for economists is why women have heard the call of the changing economy. Why it is that they've been more flexible than men have been?"

On the finance and tech sectors remaining largely closed off to women, and the fact that women still make 78 cents to men's dollar

"It's only been 40 years that this has been happening. I think it would be crazy to expect that the entire world flips upside down right away. ... It's obvious to me that people are still in this transition moment [and] somewhat uncomfortable with female power. So one thing I do in the book is ... talk to women who work in Silicon Valley, who work on Wall Street, in places where this transition is not complete and see what their reality is like and how you move to the next level."

On when Wall Street will have female CEOs

"I actually think finance is going to be the last one to go. They're going to hold on the hardest. But I definitely imagine that for a lot of other industries [women will soon fill positions of leadership]. If you look at someone like Marissa Mayer who gets a CEO job at Yahoo when she is visibly pregnant and gets to say that she doesn't want to take all that much maternity leave — whatever we think about that — it's wonderful that that model exists and that women can be that person because they're figuring it out — we're figuring it out."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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