Is the U.S. Economy Sexist?


At The Atlantic, we have a saying: "The recession was sexist. So was the recovery."

Here's why. After the downturn crushed male-heavy manufacturing and construction, women made up 50% of the work force for the first time in American history, prompting many to wonder whether the recession augured the "end of men." But since the unemployment rate began to come down at the end of the 2010, 70% of new jobs have gone to men. Even as women are out-graduating the guys and stand to benefit from growing female-dominated industries, they are still under-earning men in just about every degree, at every level of education, as you can see in this clickable graph:

big education thing.png 

The great triumph of the female worker is upon us, and yet women seem to lag men in that not-so-quaint category known as "money." So, tell us: Is the economy a level playing field for men and women, or are the cards stacked against one sex -- as the result of workplace sexism or the natural evolution of the service economy? This is your turn to write for The Atlantic. If you publish a smart comment under this article, we'll publish it with credit in our round-ups to be published on the site throughout the week.

Here's some prodding to get you started from me and our columnist Marty Nemko, who will lasso up your ideas and write his own take in one week:

Biased against women: The United States is one of a handful of developed countries without a national law guaranteeing paid leave for new mothers, much less paid leave for new fathers.

Biased against men: The unemployment rate for men is higher than for women. Men are far more likely to do dangerous jobs -- 92% of workplace deaths are to men.

Biased against women: Women earn 77 cents to the dollar compared to men, a gap that cannot be explained without referencing the incidence of workplace sexism and barriers to career advancement for women ... 

Biased against men: ... but perhaps that stat is a mirage creating by men working longer and women choosing to be moms. The BLS reports that 27 percent of male full-time workers had workweeks of 41 or more hours, compared with 15 percent of female full-time workers," according to Kay S. Hymowitz. Meanwhile, as Hanna Rosin has explained in our magazine, the evolution of the service economy is primed to play into the hands of women.

A note before the comment section: Shades of gray are always appreciated. A smart comment arguing that institutional bias against women is clearly greater than bias against men is well-taken. So too is a comment highlighting the subtle ways in which a complex economy is biased against certain classes of both men and women. This isn't a trial, Man vs. Woman, in which one side must win. It's a conversation about economic bias. Thanks in advance for participating!


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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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