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The Changing of the Workforce Guard By: Bill Costello
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hillary Clinton came as close as one possibly could to becoming the Democratic nominee for president. Sarah Palin made history as the Republican Party's first female candidate for vice president. Nancy Pelosi was recently elected as the first female speaker of the House. There are
now more female senators, congresswomen, and female state legislators than ever before.

What's going on? Are women beginning to take over America? Not really, but they are getting there.

Women are having a growing influence on the fields of law and government. They represent half of the law school students and one third of the lawyers. By 2050, they're projected to represent 60 percent of the law school students.

These changes are not just happening in law and government. Women constitute half of the medical school students and one fourth of the physicians. They're projected to constitute 70 percent of the medical school students and most of the physicians by 2050.

According to a U.S. Census Bureau report, women are starting businesses at twice the rate of men. They're also rapidly rising into managerial and administrative positions.

In short, women are becoming richer and more powerful-and this is a good thing for America. Fueling this trend is the growing number of women earning college degrees.

More education pays off in a big way. Those with a bachelor's degree earn, on average, nearly twice what those with just a high school diploma earn in a year and roughly $1 million more over a lifetime.

Not long ago, men were the majority of undergraduate and graduate students. Now women are the majority. More and more women are attending college, and men aren't keeping up with them. Among 25-to-29-year-olds, 33 percent of women have earned a bachelor's degree or more education compared with just 23 percent of men. This is the first generation of women to be more educated than their male counterparts.

This shift means that women will increasingly get the highly paid jobs while men will experience a drop in earnings. This is already happening. Men in their 30's are the first generation to earn significantly less income than their fathers' generation did at the same age.

As jobs that require little education-such as construction-increasingly shrink, more and more men will become unemployed. In the current economy, unemployment is higher and rising faster for men than for women.

Some may argue that it's still a man's world. After all, men still wield more power and earn more money than women. This is all true-for now. But a change is coming.

The reason why it's still a man's world is because previous generations of men earned more college degrees than previous generations of women. However, as women's academic achievement soars, the male advantage will gradually end and the female advantage will begin.

When today's boys become men, they will be less educated than their sisters. As women increasingly become the primary breadwinners, what role will men play? Will they want to be stay-at-home dads? Will their ego prevent them from marrying a more powerful woman? Will educated women want to marry beneath them?

These are some of the questions that arise in response to a changing America where equal opportunity and the gender gap will mean something quite different than they do today.

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