It’s been much noted that over the past decade, most of our big institutions, private and public, have not exactly covered themselves in glory: Wall Street, Congress, the Supreme Court, the press, the Federal Reserve, Tiger Woods Inc., the CIA, the auto industry, Major League Baseball, and so forth. The Catholic Church has failed miserably and, in very different ways, so have major institutions of Sunni and Shiite Islam. All these institutional breakdowns have also been, overwhelmingly, failures by men. You don’t have to buy into a like-a-fish-needs-a-bicycle view of the sexes to suspect a pattern here of testosterone (or injected steroids) fueling hubris and just plain bad judgment.
Maybe women haven’t failed quite so spectacularly simply because they have been largely denied the opportunity to do so. But as Hanna Rosin argues in her story in this issue, that is changing now, at a speed that may be creating new hope for the world but is also inducing whiplash in men. Women now hold the majority of the jobs in the United States, and of the 15 job categories projected to grow the most over the next 10 years, men dominate only two (janitor and computer engineer—take your pick, boys). As usual, our politics and corporate boardrooms are lagging indicators of what is happening in the society, where women already hold most positions in middle management and would be overwhelming our universities were it not for stealthy affirmative action on behalf of overmatched young men. Small wonder the Tea Party is mostly male, as well as white.