If you think gender relationships to work are changing, uh, look at this chart

Men Vs Women At Work

Back in February, I wrote a post about how men were actually working from home and taking care of kids more than women in some contexts. I’m always dubious of these studies because, while I want to believe them, I also think the male attitude about work — and what to derive from it — is very different than the female attitude about work (and what to derive from it). I think that’s actually the cornerstone debate around work; most people tend to assume that a woman’s ultimate goal is a family life, and a man’s ultimate goal is getting-the-hell-after-it-and-getting-that-next-promotion, and that colors a lot about how we think of management, leadership, promotion, etc. This is all a frustrating topic, because the connection between self-worth and your job should be perilous at best anyway.

There’s some data in The New York Times‘ Upshot blog today, though, that kind of re-casts this discussion.

Here’s the primary article, and here’s the poll where the data is derived from. It all comes from this idea that men are working less — since the 1960s, almost three times less — and women are too.

So, if a man and a woman are both without a job, how does that affect them, generally-speaking?

Let’s take a look:

Men And Women Attitudes When Not Working

Look at “Men” and look at “Good.” When a man doesn’t have a job, almost everything is bad: mental health, physical health, relationships with friends, relationships with spouse, and relationships with children. Look at the gap on relationships with children; a woman’s is almost three times stronger when they’re both unemployed. 

I know a little bit about this. I wasn’t 100 percent unemployed because at the time I was in graduate school, but it did take me a really long time to get a job. It was extremely frustrating and I often felt like a failure; I wrote a little bit about that before. My wife was working, but she was at a job that was below her level of competence simply so we were making money. I felt awful. You can make a legit argument — and hell, I would and I have — that December 2013 to about May 2014 were some of the worst times of my life.

So, I understand the above. As a guy there’s this belief/attitude/construct that you’re supposed to be “the provider” or “the work achiever.” This is, of course, bullshit. In life, what really matters are things around family and things around upbringings, and those are the things more associated with females — although typically (in a “functional” family, I guess), a man and a woman (or a man/man, woman/woman) will combine on that front.

The broader lesson of the chart above is that, on face, if a woman drops out of the workforce, she feels not great but not awful. If a man drops out, he basically is functioning at under 20 percent levels on all major life aspects.

For example:

At the same time, men also come across as more eager to work.

They were almost twice as likely to say they were willing to commute more than an hour each way, and about 50 percent more likely to say they were willing to move to another city. Similarly, men were much more willing than women to return to work for 25 percent less money than they made in their previous job.

25 percent less money? So if they were making $100K, they’d go to a new job for $75K?

I wonder if this goes with a traditionally male attitude of “It’s OK, I can enter on the ground floor … I’ll work my way up because I’m a warrior!” The problem with that idea, then, is that men will sacrifice quality family time in an effort to really get after that 100K salary again. That’s not good towards the things that actually matter.

Sometimes all these types of studies make me feel like a total wreck. I’m a guy but I don’t think I’ve ever defined myself through my career. In fact, I don’t even think my career is that remarkable. I tend to look at stuff through my friends, my wife, my family, and my experiences. Does that mean I’m rep’ing the wrong gender?



Ted Bauer