Friday, September 20, 2019

The Girlification of America

If Freud had cared to know what women want he would have asked them. Besides, he was not worrying about women’s lives, but about their sexual gratification. 

Fortunately, we have gotten beyond all that, and now we ask ourselves, if we are men, what women want ... in terms of work/life balance. Women are happy to tell those of us who are non-women. Most of us know that women do not want to spend as much time on the job as men usually do. They prefer to work part time and choose to spend more time with their growing children. 

We have addresses this issue before on this blog. We are happy to see that Prof. Scott Yenor arrives at a similar conclusion.

The question of what women want has long plagued men. Perhaps we should just ask them. When we do, the preference of American female doctors for part-time work is consistent with data in other wealthy western countries. Most women with dependent children don’t want full-time work; nor do they want to grind out a path toward the upper reaches of corporate or political power. In recent years, Pew and Gallup polls have shown that fewer women, under the best of circumstances, prefer full-time work. Married female MBAs from elite schools are 30 percent more likely to work part-time than married female MBAs from less prestigious schools. Women of a certain wealth, freed from economic necessity and absent social pressure to the contrary, can choose what they want. 

Yenor examines women in medicine and women practicing law. He respects women’s decisions, their free choice of a work schedule, but he also notes the downside of these choices:

The preference for part-time work among female physicians undoubtedly raises social questions. Medical schools must produce enough doctors to meet patient demand. Does expanding the choice to work part-time compromise our health-care system? After all, women’s work in U.S. medicine is immensely valuable. I owe my daughter’s life to an excellent female doctor, through whom my daughter survived cancer and its baleful side effects. She combined technical skill with extraordinary caring and judgment. Patient results are equally good for male and female physicians. Without female doctors, our health-care system would suffer from an acute doctor deficit.

But women’s preference for part-time work could negatively impact American medicine. If female physicians are more likely to work part-time, their “seats” in medical schools will produce fewer patient hours than those of their male colleagues. As a result, full-time males and females will have to work more hours, under greater pressure. The mainly female preference for part-time work may be a factor in physician burnout. It probably contributes to the forecasted shortage of 90,000 doctors by 2025.

To my knowledge, no one much cares about these issues, so they are worth noting.

Now, Claire Cain Miller reports in the New York Times that the trend toward flexible work hours and more work/life balance has captured the middling group called millennial men. 

Miller begins by denouncing the work ethic… by making it seem like a toxic (masculine) substance producing all of today’s societal ills:

For many Americans, work has become an obsession, and long hours and endless striving something to aspire to. It has caused burnout, unhappiness and gender inequity, as people struggle to find time for children or passions or pets or any sort of life besides what they do for a paycheck.

She adds:

And it’s no longer just mothers of young children who are using flexible schedules. Women get penalized when that happens — social scientists call it the flexibility stigma — and their careers often never recover in terms of pay or promotions. But if more fathers and people who aren’t parents ask for flexibility, the stigma could lessen.

Or else, the diaper changing men are going to be passed over for promotions and bonuses. 

Miller has previously written that men cannot find real career advancement unless they are, as she put it, on call. That is, men who excel at their jobs spend more time on their jobs. Not only do they not have flexible hours, but, if the job requires it, they must make themselves available when need be. If your client wants your undivided attention, you can either give him your undivided attention or lose the client. If these men have children, they obviously need to have a wife who is caring for them.

Good points to make. They are certainly true. And yet, apparently, today’s young workers are demanding more flexibility. And this does not merely involve females. Males have joined the party. They have become wanna-be girls.

But increasingly, younger workers are pushing back. More of them expect and demand flexibility — paid leave for a new baby, say, and generous vacation time, along with daily things, like the ability to work remotely, come in late or leave early, or make time for exercise or meditation. The rest of their lives happens on their phones, not tied to a certain place or time — why should work be any different?

Today’s young workers have been called lazy and entitled. Could they, instead, be among the first to understand the proper role of work in life — and end up remaking work for everyone else?

Truth be told, they are lazy and entitled. And they have no will to compete. Perhaps they are remaking the American workforce, but are they remaking it for the better? And besides, if they all get together and treat work as an entitlement, how will they compete against their peers in other countries. 

True enough, Miller continues, there are obstacles to the girlification of the workforce:

It’s still rare for companies to operate this way, and the obstacles are bigger than any one company’s H.R. policies. Some older employees may think new hires should suffer the way they did, and employers benefit from having always-on workers. Even those that are offering more flexibility might be doing it because unemployment is so low and they’re competing for workers, which could change if there is an economic downturn.

As noted above, young American men have become girlified. They are choosing the kind of work/life balance that is more suitable to mothers:

But dozens of consulting and research firms that have surveyed young people have found that for them, flexibility is a job requirement.

When Pew Research Center asked which work arrangement would be most helpful to people, young people were more likely than older people to say the flexibility to choose when they worked. Of people 18 to 29, men were more likely than women to say it, and people without children at home were as likely as parents to say it.

In a survey of 11,000 workers and 6,500 business leaders by Harvard Business School and Boston Consulting Group, the vast majority said that among the new developments most urgently affecting their businesses were employees’ expectations for flexible, autonomous work; better work-life balance; and remote working. (Just 30 percent, though, said their businesses were prepared.)

If this takes hold and if young people are incapable of working hard and competing, America is in bigger trouble than you think.


Sam L. said...

"Miller begins by denouncing the work ethic… by making it seem like a toxic (masculine) substance producing all of today’s societal ills:" WOMEN! Always complaining about men. Voy, eh?

"If this takes hold and if young people are incapable of working hard and competing, America is in bigger trouble than you think." I suspect that men getting out of the military will get the better jobs.

trigger warning said...

Attempting to accommodate SJW females is like climbing an Escher staircase.

David Foster said...

"If female physicians are more likely to work part-time, their “seats” in medical schools will produce fewer patient hours than those of their male colleagues."

This obviously implies a fixed number of seats. If the number of seats is not artificially constrained (which it apparently now is), then the question would be: does a person who (for example) works full-time for 6 years after graduation and then 50% of full time for the rest of their career still generate enough patient-hours to provide a good return on the full cost of their education?

Anonymous said...

This blog deserves an award or something.

Sam L. said...

EXCELLENT example, tw!

Gospace said...

I'm in a 24/7/365 job. I can't leave until my relief gets in. The operator I'm relieving can't leave until I com in. I'm 64. The youngest working where I'm at now is 54. We've hired and trained a few 30 somethings in the last few years. They've all left. The idea of working the same shift for years in the future with 2 days off that aren't SAT/SUN doesn't appeal to them.