What is equality exactly? USA Today recently published a somber piece that signals what seems to be a paradox of the sexes: For the first time in history, women are poised to outnumber men in the workforce.
A number of issues have contributed to this historic shift. Among them are the fact that women held nearly 50% of the nation’s 132 million jobs this past June, while gaining the majority of jobs from sectors of the economy are actually growing. USA Today reports that this striking measure started with advent of women joining the workforce during World War II and climbed to unprecedented levels in the current recession where male-dominated professions such as construction and manufacturing have been virtually decimated.
Interestingly, the only economic sectors that continue to thrive are health care, education and government, which traditionally employ women. According to USA Today, “dominance has increased in part because federal stimulus funding directed money to education, health care and state and local governments. The Postal Service is cutting tens of thousands of unionized, blue-collar jobs dominated by men while new hires are expanding in teaching and other fields dominated by college-educated women.”
Can dominance and equality even exist in the same space? Labor economist Heidi Hartmann provides some further insight on the matter:
“The change reflects the growing importance of women as wage earners, but it doesn’t show full equality, Hartmann says. On average, women work fewer hours than men, hold more part-time jobs and earn 77% of what men make, she says. Men also still dominate higher-paying executive ranks.”
Ultimately, time will reveal whether or not this modern-day recession will facilitate any meaningful strides in creating a balance among the sexes, in the work place and beyond.