Women Weathering Recession Better Than Men

What can we do to help men catch up?

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Here's a good news, bad news, piece of reporting from the Wall Street Journal:

Steady increases among women with college degrees over the past two decades apparently paid off during the recession, with government statistics showing they fared better than men over the past year, and for the first time surpassed the number of men holding payroll jobs.

Every woman (and most men) I know want women to succeed in the workplace, but no one wants that to come at the cost of men losing jobs. The good news is that women are doing so by earning more college degrees than ever before, but the bad news is men are becoming an endangered species on campus.

Women were earning about 166 associates degrees and 135 bachelor's degrees for every 100 earned by men in 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Perhaps as a result, more women were employed in teaching, government and health care, sectors that held up better in the recession.

Recession aside, we want all Americans going to college in greater percentages and no group losing out to any other. But "recession aside" is a huge "aside." The recession or its remnants are going to be with us for many years as far as job creation is concerned. Some economists say it's going to be four or five MORE years before the unemployment rate drops back down to around 5 percent--its level before this "man"-cession.

There are several ways to go about leveling the playing field so neither men's employment nor women's employment is more negatively impacted than the other in a recession. We should encourage more men to enter careers in healthcare and education. Those fields have been relatively unmarred by recent job losses and offer more staff and long-term jobs than construction or Wall Street, which have shed jobs at alarming rates.

I would love to hear your rational, intelligent suggestions on how to close the job divide, dear readers, as well.