If Hanna Rosin really thinks this is the end of men, she can't have looked very hard at the evidence

A fifth of women don't have children. Why aren't these women rising to the top?

Share
Fact File
  • 20% Female members of the House of Lords make up about a fifth of the total membership.

It almost makes you laugh. The idea that Western society is facing "the end of men" almost makes you titter a bit hysterically. It almost makes you want to sit down with a cup of coffee, and perhaps a cake, but definitely not a cupcake, and ask the American journalist who thinks it is if she's mad.

She thinks she isn’t. The American journalist, who’s called Hanna Rosin, and wrote an article called The End of Men, which created quite a stir, and has now written a book called The End of Men, which is creating quite a stir, has looked at a lot of statistics and decided that, for men, the game is up.

"In 2009," she says, "for the first time in American history, the balance of the workforce tipped toward women." Women, she says, "dominate colleges and professional schools on every continent except Africa". The US economy, she says, is "becoming a kind of travelling sisterhood". Personality tests, she says, "show men tiptoeing into new territory, while women race into theirs". We have, she thinks, reached a "tipping point" and when the pendulum swings, men will be left behind.

In certain areas, she's right. In big parts of America, and Britain, and Europe, where men used to work in mines, and shipyards, and factories, and now sit around waiting for their next benefit cheque, she's right. In areas like this, where the work that men used to do has gone, and the new work, if there is any, isn't the kind of work they're good at, she's right. In areas like this, it's often the women who get the jobs, while the men they live with, or often don't live with, stay at home.

But the end of men? The end of men, in politics, and media, and law, and medicine, and business, and banks, in charge? The end of men running newspapers, and broadcasting corporations, and political parties, and countries? Yes, it's nice that, as Rosin says, Iceland has a woman prime minister who wants to end the "age of testosterone". It's always nice when Nordic countries with tiny populations and very good childcare give big jobs to women. But it's also nice when women journalists who are trying to sell a lot of books can tell the difference between an argument and a trend.

If Hanna Rosin were to come to this country, which, she says, is facing the same shift in gender power as her country is, she might want to switch on the telly. If she did, she would probably notice that most of the politicians who were interviewed were men, and most of the bankers who were interviewed were men, and most of the lawyers who were interviewed were men. She might notice that most of the people who were interviewing them were also men, and so were most of the people who were interviewing them on the radio. And if, for example, she were to flick through the newspapers, she might notice that about 80 per cent of the articles in them were written by men, and so were most of the books reviewed.

If Hanna Rosin noticed these things, she might think that we all knew why they happened, and that you didn't really have to spell it out. She might talk about culture. She might talk about ambition. She might, in fact, say what we all know: that many women don't write books, or run countries, or banks, because it takes quite a lot of effort to write a book, or run a country or a bank, and it's hard to make that effort if you're looking after children as well.

Hanna Rosin might say that nobody is actually discriminating against these women, and that if they don’t put in the work, they can't expect the rewards. And if she did, she might be right. If you don't put in the work, you can't expect the rewards. If you leave work hours before your colleagues, and don't get a promotion, it may be upsetting, but it isn't unfair. But Hanna Rosin might also notice that a fifth of British women, and a fifth of American women, don't have children, and when it comes to women graduates, it's nearly a third. She might wonder why these women, who aren't leaving the office early, aren't rising to the top.

She might wonder why these women, who aren't leaving the office early, aren't rising to the top.


And she might notice that women who have had children, but are now at an age when they don't have to rush home from work to put them to bed, also aren't rising to the top. She might, for example, laugh when she saw the sneer on Jeremy Paxman's face when he said on Newsnight, on Monday, that it was "absurd" to define the old as "over 60". She might think that it was all very well for people like Jeremy Paxman, who is 62, and people like John Humphrys, who is 69, to laugh at the idea that 60 was "old", but that it didn't seem quite so funny to the women newsreaders who had been sacked, because their (no longer quite such smooth) faces "didn't fit".

She might think of all the women who had dedicated themselves to their career, and who had thought, perhaps naively, that they were doing quite well at climbing a ladder, and who suddenly found that they were being pushed aside. She might think that it seemed to have to do, in certain industries, with a cult of youth, but that that cult didn't seem to apply to men.

And Hanna Rosin might think, as Harriet Harman, who has just set up a commission to address discrimination against women over the age of 50, clearly thinks, that this cult was so stupid that it almost made you laugh. She might want to remind the people who run the media that about a third of the British population is over 50, and that for many of these people 50 actually seems quite young.

If Hanna Rosin really thinks men are on their way out, she might wonder why it's nearly always men who think that their opinion is something that someone else wants to hear. She might want to say that although the media is only one industry, among many industries, it's the one that influences other industries by setting the tone. And if she really wants a society that edges towards a "tipping point", a tipping point where women don't have all the power, but have a little bit more than they do now, she should do this: she should tell women over 50, and under 50, that they need to learn to play the games that will get them seen, and heard. She should tell them, in other words, that the time has come to stop being nice, and stop being modest, and stop being victims, and fight.

c.patterson@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate Recruitment Resourcers - Banking Technologies

£18000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Huxley Associates are looking...

Implementation Engineer

£150 - £200 per day: Orgtel: Implementation Engineer Hampshire / London (Gre...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Pharmacuetical

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Real Staffing, one of the UK'...

Associate Recruitment Consultant - IT

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Computer Futures has been est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise  

The UK economy may be back on track, but ordinary people are still being left behind

James Moore
The Independent journalist James Moore pictured outside Mile End underground station in east London  

The true cost of being disabled goes far beyond just the physical

James Moore
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform