Are modern men not well-evolved for modern jobs?
This article originally appeared at AskMen.com
There’s nothing like spending a weekend with cattle ranchers and meat packers to make you feel like less of a man. I was in Ohio for the grand opening of Certified Angus Beef’s Educational and Culinary Center, and while a full write-up of my experience is on the docket for later, suffice to say for now that hanging out with men who work with the land and their bare hands on a daily basis certainly puts an office job in perspective. In many instances, I think you could make a strong case that men just aren’t cut out to work in offices at all.
As offices become more automated and business processes continue to improve, the modern man is increasingly at a disadvantage in the business world. To say that a different way, I think we’re fine as workers, but there’s really nothing that goes on in a modern-day office that allows us to have or assert any kind of competitive advantage, either over our fellow men or our female counterparts. Like it or not, the things that we’ve evolved to specialize in as men simply don’t carry a lot of clout in accounts receivable. Women, on the other hand, have skills better suited to it.
For starters, look at an employer’s options when it comes to bringing on a new employee. In terms of education, women make up more than half of all current college enrollments. If you look beyond undergrad and into graduate programs, the gap widens. Women hold more than 60% of graduate degrees among people aged 25-29. At nearly every level, men are coming to the table with less education than our female counterparts.
The real kicker? Even if we’re just as qualified as a female candidate, our competitive nature and negotiating prowess might price us out of the job anyway. As it turns out, a big factor in the male-female wage gap is that women simply don’t negotiate their salariesearly in their careers, resulting in a lower starting salary than some men may have lobbied for. Sure, that’s good news for you when an offer’s on the table, but what if you’re a hiring manager evaluating candidates? If budgets are tight and they’re evenly matched, you’re always going to make an offer to the candidate you think you can get for a lower price.
Well, guess what? As luck would have it, women are better multitaskers than we are. That key (and irritating) component of office life is something that science has found women to be innately superior at. During my research, I found what I thought was our saving grace: Not only is multitasking something of a misnomer, it’s also a rare case where the more we do it, the worse we are at it. I found that uplifting for a moment, but then I realized it didn’t matter. As I’ve said before, the modern office doesn’t really require us to be good at anything; it just requires someone who can show up and manage the myriad minute tasks that can’t be automated.
Beyond that, even when it comes to working together, women tend to naturally gravitate toward a more egalitarian working structure, whereas men prefer a more centrally dominated hierarchy. I don’t know about your office, but my experience in the last several years has always been that most project teams and groups tend to operate flatter in nature. In fact, many Fortune 500 companies are actively seeking to flatten their hierarchies across the board (maybe to attract those lower-cost, higher-educated female workers). I could go on, but honestly this is turning into a depressing commentary on the state of our gender.
Does it have to be all bad news? No, it doesn’t. For everything I cited that found that women are better at something than we are, it doesn’t mean that being on the other side of the equation makes us worse. It just means we’re better at something different. If anything, it’s a good time for men to step back, catalog their strengths and weaknesses (something I advocate), and seek out the kind of work that suits them. Is this a case of us as men needing to adapt and learn new skills and behaviors? Maybe, but to do so whole-heartedly would be definitionally emasculating. Instead, maybe it’s an opportunity for business leaders to take notice of some of the inherent differences in their workforces and brainstorm new ways for everyone to use their strengths to the best of their advantage.
If that doesn’t work, there’s always meatpacking.