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

Software Developer (Java /C# Programmer)- London

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...

Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letters: The West flounders in the Middle East morass

Independent Voices
David Tennant as Hamlet  

To vote no or not to vote no, that is the question... Although do celebrities really have the answer?

David Lister
All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition