Women’s rights have gone a long way since the 1920s. Since then, a gradual development has been seen in the status of women in Western society.
This development is still continuing. It’s being witnessed today in the workforce, where statistics show a rise in female over male employment.
More Information on the Statistics
Let us begin with Pew Research. Their information shows that women are outpacing men in the race for job opportunities (source).
Specifically, statistics show that men have gone from 86.4% to 69.1% participation rate (from 1950 to 2017). This represents a 17.3% loss.
In that same timeframe, women have gained 23.1%, rising from 33.9 to 57.0% participation rate.
Measuring from this trajectory, it isn’t a surprise that women are winning the race. In fact, it is expected that this trend will continue – even for future generations.
However, previous information poses an important question.
That is – what are the reasons for this change in participation rates? Why are more women working, while more men are lacking jobs?
Below, we’ll attempt to answer that question through a few points.
First – Culture
As mentioned earlier, women’s rights movements and feminism contribute to this cultural shift.
Throughout the past few decades, more women have been encouraged to join the workforce. However, this encouragement has been at its highest for millennial generations.
The millennial generation uses the internet as a habitual lifestyle utility from childhood days.
The average millennial is accustomed from a young age to the accessibility of information. Specifically, they’re much more influenced by social media than by TV and books.
This spread of information has led to more people being informed about women’s rights.
This might not have been available to Generations X and Y, who may have lacked access to easy information while being considered more conservative on average.
Second – Education
This plays a large role in employment opportunities.
As the facts show, women are also starting to outpace men in higher education. Specifically, women’s completion of bachelor’s degrees is almost equal to men’s (see here).
Now this may seem normal, but compared to a few decades before, it is a massive improvement.
The previous source mentions show the difference in bachelor rate completion from the 1980s to 2013.
In 1980, less than 15% of women had a bachelor’s. On the other hand, over 20% of men had them.
In 1990, it was 18% of women compared to 24% of men.
Today, the gap has closed, with the values being almost similar. At this rate, it is expected that women will represent the majority of higher education by 2030.
Basically, this means that employment opportunities for women are better. Women are more likely to find jobs, in addition to advancing to masters and PhDs.
Third – Changes in the Employment World
The internet has brought many changes to the structure of employment.
It is now possible to earn income from home, whether it be by long-distance employment, starting an online business, or by self-employment.
Many women are taking advantage of this structure. They use it due to its advantages of creating a good work-life balance.
It allows many women to effectively balance a career with motherhood. This especially allows women to continue for longer in the workforce, without dropping out in their late thirties.
As a result, we see higher participation rates. The ability to work remotely is an advantage that is low cost and is adaptable to many different employee skill sets
Long-Term Consequences and Effects
More women are participating in the workforce. This should be celebrated.
But, this doesn’t mean that there are less men working. In fact, more men today are working in the US than a few decades ago. This is simply logic.
However, it should be noted that this causes many social changes in the West.
For starters, it means lesser cohesion in family life. Nuclear families are less likely to be stable, with higher divorce rates, as each couple focuses on their careers.
Additionally, competition for jobs should intensify. This means that the barrier of entries should be higher, which may be problematic for those lacking higher degrees.
But overall, the previous changes are excellent news for women. It indicates higher participation and more success!
Written by: Shauna D. Balfour