Grace, one of the regular commenters on my blog, asked me to opine on why it's a man's world.
Grace, it's not.
Yes, more men have leadership positions, but as I'll argue, that doesn't make it a man's world. And the reason more men have leadership positions is overwhelmingly not because of some male-erected glass ceiling. It's primarily because more men than women are willing to trade work/life balance and do what it takes to get and succeed in positions of major influence. They believe that doing so results in a more meaningfully-led life than if they stopped work at 40 hours so they could see their kids' soccer game and play Monopoly with them on a regular basis.
So, these men are, for example, willing to put in the 60+ hour workweeks that typical CEOs and congresspeople put in. They're more often willing to move their family across the country to some god-forsaken place so they can learn how to run a plant. They're more willing to pursue risky business ventures. The book, Why Men Earn More, describes 25 such reasons, which explains the misleading statistic that women earn less than men. For the same work, on average, women earn at least as much.
But just because more men are in leadership positions doesn't mean it's a man's world. Women have much more power than is widely recognized. Women have lifestyle power: Women and their advocacy groups have persuaded society to give women many more choices than men have. Society will not denigrate women for becoming a CEO, doctor, lawyer, holder of a low-level full-time job, part-time job, or no job at all. Most men do not have as wide a range of options.
In addition, many other things ensure women's control. Examples:
- If a woman fails to use birth control and gets pregnant, the man is on the hook for 18 years of child support. A woman can have an abortion and end any responsibility, but a man cannot force a woman to do so. Therefore, in inserting his penis without a condom in a woman, he takes a far greater risk than she does.
- If women have a deficit, for example, are "underrepresented" in engineering, there are massive efforts at redress. Yet when men have the deficit, for example, that fewer than 40% of the 2008 college graduates are men, there is little or no redress.
- Even when men suffer the ultimate deficit--they live 5.3 years shorter than women and spend their last decade in worse health, the vast majority of gender-specific medical research over the last 50 years has been on women. Almost all the gender-specific health-related non-profits are for women. For years, we've been seeing a sea of pink ribbons against breast cancer, but none against sudden heart attack (Think Tim Russert,) which kills many more men, much earlier.
In reality, it's far from a man's world.