Men at Work: Objecting ‘The End of Men’ and Celebrating Masculinity in the Workforce

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About Derek Rose

Derek Rose has worked for 15 years as a newspaper reporter, wire service editor and copy editor. In his free time he enjoys running, yoga and playing with his two cats, Coco and Papi.


  1. The Bad Man says:

    That’s an awesome collection of statistics and meaningful commentary. I’m bookmarking this for future reference. There will always be a use for men in technical, trades and labor intensive industries. The real problem is that young men are falling behind in academic careers and won’t be equally represented among the influential intelligentsia.

    I recently saw a documentary on Sweden about gender equality and it seems that gender segregation by occupation and interests have become more entrenched (aside from government quotas) in a more free and egalitarian society. I found it astonishing that girls in third world countries had more interest in technical careers (but less opportunity) than in more egalitarian first world nations.

    All of those personal choices in occupation add up to a real disparity in work hours and wages.

    • hi i am from india the reason girls in countries like mine study technical courses is not because of interest but its the only area that will recruit girls( the software industry) with high pay without much needed intellectual ability. its not a choice for these girls but the only way as they want to have a high paid job…

  2. So: professional women continue to be over-represented in lower-paid jobs (education, healthcare), and earn 73.5 percent of the salary of men in those fields. Marriage is good for men’s pay, but bad for women’s. The financial burden of parenthood is overwhelmingly placed on women.

    Certainly not the end of men, but I’m unclear what the take-away if from your article. Go team patriarchy? The only message that I’m getting is that, whatever claims have been made for the gains women have made in the workplace and society, there’s still a long way to go.

    • Peter Houlihan says:

      “The only message that I’m getting is that, whatever claims have been made for the gains women have made in the workplace and society, there’s still a long way to go.”

      There sure is, but if you look at the one statistic which was extended over more than a couple of decades (8th graph in “Percentage of Workforce that is female” 1964 – 2011) the news is very encouraging indeed.

      It helps to keep in mind that that graph only examined the curve between 30% and 50%, if you looked at the graph from 0% to 100% you’d see that the percentage of the workeforce is female is only slightly off 50%. Equally its important to remember that alot of the other graphs only showed 1/10th of the graph (between 40% and 50%). As a result, what looks at first glance to be a yawning gap is actually quite close.

      I’m not sure I’d interpret the pay gap between married men and women with kids as a “loss” for women. I don’t think that these represent discrimination in the wordplace against married women with kids so much as that responsibility for work still places men in the role of external provider and women in the role of internal provider. Both partners still enjoy the resulting income and as far as I know theres still plenty of data out there suggesting that women enjoy more control over household expenditure, including discretionary expenditure.

      All in all I think things are still edging towards equality, but in the meantime women are far from badly off.

      • Peter, I agree that the big picture (since 1964) is encouraging, although I do think the tendency to ghettoise and underpay “women’s work” is evidence that there’s a long way to go.

        The gap between married with kids women and men I take it to be evidence that more women go part-time etc when children arrive. However, in the experience of people I know, that decision tends to be taken in light of whichever partner earns more. This exaggerates the existing discrepancy in incomes, as it becomes ‘all or nothing.’ If women and men’s incomes were identically distributed, I might expect men and women with kids to have a similar drop in income.

        The Anglo-American model is very much to expect men to ignore their parental commitments, and leave women to pick up the ball – an arrangement which I don’t think is good for either sex.

        • Peter Houlihan says:

          “although I do think the tendency to ghettoise and underpay “women’s work” is evidence that there’s a long way to go.” How do you mean? Housekeeping type stuff or the caring professions?

          Your second point is an excellent one, but theres another factor to be considered: Do men, conciously or unconciously, aim for careers which yield higher saleries even prior to marriage because they expect to be the primary earner? I suspect upbringing and depictions of gender in the media contribute to this.

          Or expect women to ignore their financial committments and men to pick up the ball. But I agree, it would be better for everyone if both roles were less set in stone.

        • derek rose says:

          “If women and men’s incomes were identically distributed, I might expect men and women with kids to have a similar drop in income. ”

          Ah, but as one of the chart shows, unmarried, childless men and women do actually have very similar salaries. Women however seem to have some preference for dating well-off dudes, as well as guys who are slightly older. Guys on average seem to prefer younger women and don’t care that much about income. The result is that in 2007, the women made more in only 22 percent of marriages.

      • The wage gap between married women and men is a huge loss for women. It puts them in the subordinate position and makes it more possible for men to rule the world. I disagree that the woman is the internal provider. Any woman who depends on a husband’s income is putting hersself in an extremely vulnerable, subordinate position. If a man loves a woman, he will do everything possible to see that she develops in her career and is financially independent. If a man really loves a woman, he will become a househusband if necessary.

        • Isn’t there more to life than money, though, Marie? (I certainly didn’t choose my career path, journalism, thinking I would get rich doing it…).

          Guys sacrifice a LOT for their higher pay. We’re about 10 times more likely to die on the job, much more likely to work nontraditional hours also in general work longer hours than women.

          You could just as easily argue that MARRIAGE puts higher-income earners (generally men, but not always) in an extremely vulnerable, subordinate position. Just lookit Mel Gibson’s $425 million divorce settlement … or Jack Welch’s $180 million settlement.

        • If a man really loves a woman he will do everything he can to help her career, including become a househusband? Doesnt this then put him in the same subordinate position that you claim makes women so vulnerable? I’m sure that’s not what you meant though, and that if the roles were reversed, you would be happy to do whatever it takes to help the man you love become financially independent (including becoming a housewife!)

          So, here’s my suggestion. If this married wage gap makes you so uncomfortable, your path forward is clear – marry a guy who makes less money than you do. Security guards, cleaners and social workers all are pretty poorly paid, perhaps search for a spouse in one of those industries. Or maybe you can search for a higher paid job. Generally, men get better pay when they choose to work longer hours, or pick difficult, dirty or dangerous jobs. Mining work for example, can be very lucrative, so maybe try that. You will then have the pleasure of being the primary breadwinner in your family. And what’s even better this would also give you the opportunity to helping your lower earning partner become financially independent. What’s good for the Goose, right?

    • derek rose says:

      Hey Chris. The point of my article was to examine the labor-market statistics used by Rosin and others to argue that “men are finished” and somehow less suited for the New Economy than women.

      I know that that is an odd argument to be refuting, because most people would tend to say it’s still a “man’s world,” but Rosin’s argument has caught on in certain circles.

      Do women go into lesser-paying jobs because of “patriarchy,” or is it simply a question of women making difference choices than men? I’d tend to think the latter, but that’s really outside the scope of what I was trying to examine here.

      As I wrote, it’s not clear that “marriage is good for men’s pay.” It’s also possible that well-paid dudes are simply more likely to marry.

      And as you can sorta see in the graphs, childless married women do make more than childless unmarried women — it’s not not as strong an association as with men. Again, it’s not clear if that is a cause or an effect.

      • [just lost another reply to auto-update. Sigh...]

        Derek, nice job with the analysis, particularly the “management” figure. I’m not sure why Roisin’s argument has proved so popular, as it might suggest that patriarchy is over, which I’m sure is not something a lot of her fans would say! Possibly a bit of trying to have it both ways?

        I agree with you about marriage and men’s pay: it’s as/more likely that low earners in particular may be less likely to marry: also that co-habiting might show a class and/or income stratification (at least in the UK). I think I misread one of your charts in an earlier comment, btw – thanks for the clarification.

        As in any large dataset, one can find figures that say a lot of different things, and it’s a question of which facts one privileges over the others that determines the narrative. For me, two things stand out as important: that women are over-represented in certain professions (which “coincidentally” are the poorly-paid ones: I think if you broke down healthcare into nursing and qualified doctors you’d see a clear gender divide), and that the financial burden of children falls on women’s salaries.

        That those professions are female-dominated is not surprising to me – but there’s an interesting argument about why society values teachers and nurses so poorly. One mark of “esteemed professions” is that they tended to be male-only until relatively recently.

        To clarify my point about the burden of parental responsibility (re: JustAMan’s comment below) – I was talking about the actual business of childcare and being a (present) parent, not earning enough to pay someone else to do it for you. Men have been expected to work long hours, and that expectation doesn’t really change when they have kids. As a result women’s salaries suffer disproportionately, and men get to be absentee parents. Like I said, bad for both parties.

        • I think part of the reason Rosin’s argument is so popular is that some women love love love to be able to complain about men… ;).

          If are so inclined — I got a kick out of reading this transcript of a Sept. 20 debate between Rosin and Dan Abrams vs. Christina Hoff Sommers and David Zinczenko. (I don’t feel Zinczenko represented us very well!)

          I feel like in a capitalist society, people’s pay is determined strictly by supply and demand. There’s no central planning authority that decides what people make — it’s based on the market. The employers try to pay as little as they can to get qualified people, while employees hold out for as much salary as they can get.

          I don’t really agree that nurses and teachers are paid “so poorly,” either … here in NYC, starting salary for a hospital RN is $51,000, going up to $80,000 for supervisory positions. NYC teacher salary starts at $51,425 for folks with a master’s degree, but experienced teachers can earn up to $100,049 a year, and have really great benefits. Summers off are nice.

          • Derek: Interesting debate score: she seemed to “win” convincingly. This may go to show that debate is a poor means of gaguing truth, especially when one of your experts is the editor of a glossy magazine with “ABS” and “SEX” on the cover :)

            Supply and demand: in an economist’s wet dream, perhaps. Relative positions of power matter hugely when it comes to determining how much is “as little as they can” and ” as much as they can get.” To take an extreme example, the lot of peasants in feudal England wasn’t bad because there were too many peasants!

            Healthcare and education are very different in the UK, I was only speaking about the situation over here. And it’s true, teachers in the private sector can make decent money – but not compared to the other professions, comparing like with like. Also, if you’re a teacher in a good fee-paying school over here, you’re working Saturdays and spending most of those “summers off” organising doing school trips &c. I wouldn’t swap…

            • derek rose says:

              No no wages are really just a matter of supply and demand. As long as people are free to charge what they want for their labor, they will charge as much as they can, while employers will charge as little as they can. If there’s an oversupply of labor wages go down; an undersupply prices go up. That’s true if you’re a migrant farmhand or a brain surgeon…

          • “I feel like in a capitalist society, people’s pay is determined strictly by supply and demand. There’s no central planning authority that decides what people make — it’s based on the market. The employers try to pay as little as they can to get qualified people, while employees hold out for as much salary as they can get.”

            Absolutely. Agree 100%. I think another factor affecting wages is whether an employees work directly relates to profit for their employers or not. This also helps explains the comparatively lower salaries of those in the teaching and social work professions. These salaries are paid out of ever shrinking Government funds, and the teachers and social workers work performance can never result in increased income to their employers which could be used to fund salary increases.

    • David Byron says:

      Marriage is good for women getting their husband’s pay.

  3. Peter Houlihan says:

    Good gracious, The Atlantic really dropped the ball.

    Astounding work.

  4. Derek — Fantastic job drilling into the details. I very much look forward to your upcoming analysis of the educational performance and educational attainment numbers with respect to the Richard Whitmire data and the recent article in the NYT by Catherine Rampell.

    Chris, quoting you: “The Anglo-American model is very much to expect men to ignore their parental commitments, and leave women to pick up the ball – an arrangement which I don’t think is good for either sex.”

    I wonder. The data released 10 months ago by the White House Council on Women and Girls, below the “headline” level actually showed men in the US were engaged in slightly more overall average work hours per week than women when you combined both work hours outside the home and work hours in the household. And of course the greater earnings for men outside the home were, as Rampell pointed out in a NYT blog piece a year or so ago, were clustered at the >$100,000 year category, below which men and women earned essentially indistinguishable amounts, even before accounting for the greater average number of hours worked outside the home by men.

    Anecdotally, this brings to mind the comment of acquaintances, a high powered woman who is a litigator with a major US firm in a major Eastern US city, and her male spouse who is a psychiatrist. Just before she had kids, at a social event he said to me “I’m really looking forward to cutting back office hours and spending time with the kids.” His wife overheard and immediately replied, with some vigor, “If there is any staying home to be done, I will be the one taking care of that!” He caved immediately. The anecdote is backed up by work-life balance satisfaction survey data, which shows men continue to be less satisfied with the extra time they spend working outside the home and women more satisfied with the time they can spend at home.

    • JustAMan — Thank you. That Catherine Rampell NYT article was a little odd, wasn’t it? She started off talking about the phenomenom of women dropping out of the workforce “in droves.” This is a real thing — guys got disproportionately slammed in the Great Recession, but since the recovery began in mid-2009, men have been taking most of the new jobs, while women have been leaving the labor force.

      No one is really sure why this is. The N.Y. Post had a revealing quote from a VP of the National Women’s Law Center on Friday: “We looked industry by industry to try to understand what was happening and why women were doing so badly. But looking at it, it was hard to understand what was going on.”

      Anyway, Rampell suggested that the decline in the female labor force was caused by young women “postponing their working lives to get more education.” Looking at the data, I don’t think that’s a very good explanation at all about what is happening. Much of the decline in the labor force is from women 25 to 44. (I’m not denying that more women in their early 20s are enrolling in college, tho. It’s also very silly to compare this fairly mild uptick in enrollment to the postwar college boom caused by the G.I. Bill).

      So where did these “missing” women go? My theory is that maybe they didn’t want to be in the workforce to begin with, but had to support their laid-off husbands. But that’s really more of a guess. USA Today ran a story a little while ago suggesting that maybe guys were outcompeting women for the retail jobs. But the women’s law center numbers indicate this phenomenom is going on across industries.

      Anyway. Basically to preview the second part of this article — I’m really going to ask, how much does it really matter that women outnumber guys going to college? Are guys really going to be “left behind” in the workforce if we don’t get degrees? I’m tend to agree with the argument made by Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel, who argues that there is a higher education bubble.

  5. Great. Now all the feminazi’s will be back with their battle axes to make sure men get a proper beat-down this time. I was hoping Rosin’s article would quiet them down if they had stats claiming men were defeated. If we claim a victor, we can all go back to fighting our own fight in the real world which is as challenging for boys as it is for girls. As a woman, I see plenty of sexism. It sucks. As a mother, I also see plenty of sexism against my sons. Also sucks.

    • Hey, I thought this website was going to stop the feminist-bashing. The Good Men Project should not accept posts that use words like feminazi.

      • Marie – you raise an interesting point. But, I do have to point out that the person using the term is a woman, which may be seen to be an expression of a valid point of view, and not an attack upon Feminism, per se.

  6. Hannah Rosin could never dream of a better publicist than the scores of people who remain outraged at her 18-month-old story in The Atlantic.

    • I know, right? But Rosin’s article was really very influential, and she’s apparently coming out with a book along the same theme. Really, I think very few people are going to pay very much attention to this article — it’s too dense and technical; you’d have to be already interested in Rosin’s argument.

      But for those that are and want to take the time to understand the statistics Rosin uses, I hope there is a pretty good payoff.

    • Peter Houlihan says:

      Honestly, her article doesn’t annoy me a bit, even if it isn’t factually correct. She wasn’t the one who claimed that men’s rights issues didn’t exist on the basis that some men are privileged.

      • derek rose says:

        I’m offended — not as a man but as a JOURNALIST. Especially the incorrect women-are-more-managers statistic. The Atlantic really needs to correct that.

        • Derek – have you handed this lot over to the Village Voice etal?

          • derek rose says:

            no … when i first posted it on my blog last week, i sent a copy to media critic Jim Romenesko, Glenn Reynolds of instapundit and Tom here. Tom was the only one who responded! And was interested in republishing it here, hence this post. I probably should have pitched here here to begin with, but it wayyy exceeded the max suggested lengths. Maybe I’ll try and see if I can’t dig up some more contacts to self-promote…

            • Derek – I liked this piece, and found it refreshingly free of spin, unlike Roisin’s article. However, I felt there wasn’t much “story”; good data analysis and pointing out Roisin’s errors may not be enough for mainstream publications without a narrative thread. Hope you do get a wider audience.

            • Well Derek – it seems that Journalism and New Media is just focused on Demographic vs Advertising Revenue. The only facts that count are the Bottom Line. P^)

              “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.”
              Napoleon Bonaparte

        • Peter Houlihan says:

          Yep, on grounds of factual accuracy and transparancy its bothersome. I meant more that as a man I didn’t see as much erasure of men’s issues as I did in Patrick’s piece.

  7. A really great article refuting the predictions made by Hannah Rosin about the end of men. It is quite obvious that men would continue to dominate the work force. Pitirim Sorokin said that American sociology is the painful elaboration of the obvious.

  8. I show Rosin’s TED talk to my Intro to Sociology class, mostly to pick apart her arguments. At one point she even implies that the “boy child preference” in China has nearly faded away. (So. Not. True!)

    You’ve done a brilliant job of illuminating the facts here. I plan to assign this article to my class as follow-up reading!


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