I've received a lot of interesting feedback to my post earlier this week about Paula Broadwell as a cautionary tale of attempting to get a Ph.D. as a ticket-punching exercise. I promise to write a follow-up post on that particular bugaboo very soon.
However, as I said in that original post, I used Broadwell primarily as the hook to write about the more generic question of why one gets a Ph.D. in the first place. This raises the question of whether I was fair in my treatment of her case. The New America Foundation's Tara Maller argues that I was not. Below is her (unedited by me) defense of Broadwell and her critique of the Broadwell coverage. Read the whole thing:
Over the last couple of weeks, I've been hesitant to weigh in on the debates surrounding the multifaceted situation involving General Petraeus and Paula Broadwell. My reservations have mostly been in light of both my previous role as a former analyst at CIA and someone who has known Paula since 2007, due to her leadership role with Women in International Security in Cambridge, MA. I was deeply saddened by the serious personal mistakes of Broadwell and Petraeus and this piece is not intended to absolve either of blame or responsibility for their personal indiscretions. However, as an individual who studied international relations, worked in government and respected their service and accomplishments, I've been disheartened by the tone, double standards and arguments exhibited in some of the recent media coverage.
As The New York Times and other media outlets debate whether Petraeus' next move will be to a prestigious university or corporate board, discussions of Broadwell have been reduced to conversations about her outfits, criticism of her personal drive, complaints about her routine faculty office hour visits and a critique of her motivations' for pursuing an advanced degree. In Professor Daniel Drezner's recent blog post titled "The Broadwell Recognition," he drew on a recent Boston Globe article to critique Paula as someone destined to "flail miserably" and make some broader arguments about the types of people well-suited for Ph.D. programs. As an individual who completed a Ph.D. program, knows Paula (along with many other "scholar-officers" from my time in Cambridge), and is generally a fan of Drezner's writings, I respectfully disagree with Drezner on a number of his points.
First, there are many types of Ph.D. candidates from a variety of backgrounds and a multitude of goals. Drezner paints a portrait of just one acceptable type of candidate for a Ph.D. program and implies that Broadwell's career ambitions, background or personality was not the right fit. As someone who knows Paula and interacted with her during her time in Cambridge, I agree with Drezner that individuals like Paula are not the traditional Ph.D. candidate, or typical professionals in the field of international affairs. There aren't many women in this field, let alone women with two small children, who excelled at West Point, mentored young women over brunch at their home, served as an army intel officer, attended Harvard, completed marathons and served as an unofficial advisor to younger professionals in the field like myself. In fact, many of the "scholar-officers" I encountered in Cambridge were the most thoughtful, impressive, unique and service-oriented individuals I have ever met in my life. One of the most rewarding aspects of my program at MIT was the blend of academic, military and policy experience - and the knowledge that our shared educational experience would be used to impact the world in different ways. Shouldn't we be encouraging our future military and political leaders to pursue higher levels of education? The "soldier-officer" types or those on their way to "way to power and influence" in Washington tend to be individuals committed to public service and issues about which they are deeply passionate. Entering a Ph.D. program to gain skills or expertise to employ in the military or policy community does not make one less equipped for a Ph.D. program nor does it make Paula's motivations any less legitimate.
Second, many brilliant and successful individuals take breaks or do not finish their Ph.D. due to unanticipated personal or professional challenges or even opportunities. This does not mean that you aren't able to think critically about ideas or that you were only pursuing a Ph.D. purely for ambition's sake. Drezner himself even acknowledges many of these challenges, particularly for women, in a previous blog post. Unfortunately, his recent post fails to mention that during the time Paula was at Harvard (where she did receive a Master's) she had two children in under two years, serving as the Deputy Director of the Tufts University Fletcher School's Jebsen Center for Counter-Terrorism and founded the New England Women in International Security chapter (she has also started the Denver WIIS chapter and served on the executive board of international WIIS). Her husband was also putting in extremely long hours doing his residency, so she was working to make extra money for her family. Broadwell gave birth to her first son within a two months of starting the Harvard program and her second son less than two years later. When she left Harvard's program, she had two children still in diapers. If there was anything Paula failed at during this particular time period, it was being able to continue to function at a superwoman level as she tried to juggle "having it all" at one time. Many men and women of our generation need to balance all sorts of life decisions and career trajectories as they struggle with work-life family balance and competing priorities.
Lastly, one doesn't have to like Broadwell or even think she is a star academic to acknowledge some of the unfair characterizations by the media and higher levels of scrutiny and criticism that women seem to face in these situations. Over the last couple of weeks, the media has been criticizing Broadwell for many behaviors and personality attributesthat are not only typical of her peers in academically rigorous program, but ones that are encouraged and desirable. The Boston Globe piece Drezner cites includes criticism of Paula for both seeking out faculty during office hours and promoting her work. I can't tell you how many times I've heard faculty, career counselors, advisors and public officials in DC advise students to do just these things. Other articles in the media have lashed out at Paula for being driven and ambitious. I'm pretty sure many successful individuals and leaders have been praised for similar characteristics - including General Petraeus. It is worth noting that much of her drive was also directed at advocating on behalf of veterans and women in foreign policy. Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution recently chimed in on this in an op-ed writing, "She [Paula] never struck me as more ambitious than the average Washingtonian, and she never seemed cutthroat in how she pursued her ambitions." As a Ph.D. student who met Paula in the winter of 2007 through her work with WIIS, I've known Paula as someone who has exhibited leadership and mentorship to advance the careers of many younger women - including myself. If Broadwell was a "self-promoter" of her own work, then she was just as much a promoter of others' work and important causes as well.
We should be cognizant of the serious implications of some of the arguments made in Drezner's piece and the tone of many other recent articles in the media lest we discourage future generations of very bright and talented young women and men with a commitment to public service from entering the field.
Tara Maller is a Research Affiliate at the New America Foundation. She is a former military analyst at the CIA and holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
My only rebuttal to Maller's essay is that I had not seen the information regarding Broadwell's personal situation during her time at Harvard reported anywhere else, and Broadwell herself hasn't been commenting on anything -- so it would have been difficult to mention it.
Still, what do you think?
I take my cues from the front page of the New York Times just like any other
effete intellectual member of the Media Elite. And today, Jodi Kantor delves into the latest paroxysm of debate about women trying to "have it all," and, hey, whaddaya know, this time it's an Atlantic cover essay by Anne-Marie Slaughter that's set it off. I've had my friendly disagreements with Slaughter in the past, and I'm afraid I'm going to have another one after reading "Why Women Still Can't Have it All." But in this instance I want to stress the "friendly" part of the "disagreement."
Slaughter's title pretty much sums up her thesis: after spending two years in a hard-charging job as the Director of Policy Planning at the State Department, she discovered that the opportunity costs to her home life were too great:
I realized that I didn’t just need to go home. Deep down, I wanted to go home. I wanted to be able to spend time with my children in the last few years that they are likely to live at home, crucial years for their development into responsible, productive, happy, and caring adults.
The essay is worth reading, if not quite as groundbreaking as others would like it to be. It ceetainly references
political minefields issues I've raised here in the past on women pursuing foreign policy careers. Rather than launch a full-blown critique, however, I'd just raise three questions:
1) Is this just about women? As multiple critics have pointed out, the issues Slaughter raises -- balancing work and home life, etc. -- are hardly unique to women. She suggests that women face this challenge more acutely because... well... they're moms:
From years of conversations and observations, however, I’ve come to believe that men and women respond quite differently when problems at home force them to recognize that their absence is hurting a child, or at least that their presence would likely help. I do not believe fathers love their children any less than mothers do, but men do seem more likely to choose their job at a cost to their family, while women seem more likely to choose their family at a cost to their job.
Many factors determine this choice, of course. Men are still socialized to believe that their primary family obligation is to be the breadwinner; women, to believe that their primary family obligation is to be the caregiver. But it may be more than that. When I described the choice between my children and my job to Senator Jeanne Shaheen, she said exactly what I felt: “There’s really no choice.” She wasn’t referring to social expectations, but to a maternal imperative felt so deeply that the “choice” is reflexive.
As someone in a more traditional marriage than Slaughter, I'd tweak this just a bit. First of all, unless someone is inheriting a trust fund, there's also really no choice in providing for a family either. Seriously, there isn't. Second of all, a difference between men and women is that when parenting issues come up, it's totally cool for women to anguish about it -- in print, no less -- while it's happening. For men, it's totally cool to drink Scotch, brood and repress feelings about the costs of careerism for years until it all boils to the surface at some family vacation when the kids are grown up and resentments can be aired. But trust me, men have to cope with this as well.
Third, I wonder if the choice is really that stark. There are hard-charging jobs and hard-charging jobs. There's being an active parent and then there's... American parenting in affluent zip codes. As Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry noted:
YES, you can have it all. You can have a successful career and a good family. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes, and there is absolutely no doubt about that.
What you CANNOT have is a successful career AND helicopter parenting. This “it” you cannot have. And if you want the best for your kids, you’ll choose the career and ditch the helicopter. They’ll be better off, and take it from me, they’ll be grateful.
2) Is it the international dimension? Slaughter was trying to write as general an essay as possible, but I was struck by how much of her anecdata consisted of women in foreign affairs/national security careers. I have no doubt that professionals in other sectors face this issue, but one of the biggest challenges with "international" careers is that they tend to spawn international travel.
I know and admire some professionals who go overseas and bring their families with them, but that's not for everyone. The one piece of advice I can proffer here is to cram intense foreign experiences early in one's life. One of the jumpstarts to my own career track was spending significant amounts of time in eastern Ukraine during a time when no Westerners wanted to be there. I was able to do that because at the time I was unattached and childless. There is no way -- no way -- I would have made the same choice if I was married and a father. Plan accordingly.
3) Are the solutions worse than the problem? Finally, I am skeptical that Slaughter's suggested reforms will really work. I like her suggestion that we reconceive our career arcs so that they peak in one's late sixties rather than twenty years earlier -- but that won't happen unless wages get less sticky. Older workers woiuld have to be comfortable with declining rather than rising wages, because otherwise Slaughter's suggestion would act as a massive barrier to hiring younger workers.
Furthermore, some of Slaughter's recommendations would likely have unanticipated consequences that would exacerbate the very problems she wants to solve. For example, one of the issues that she raises is family leave for raising children. Now, this is an innovation that has been cemented into the academy pretty well -- but the effects have been somewhat perverse. That's because after maternity leave, paternity leave got institutionalized. This sounds great, but I know from personal experience that women and men use these leaves differently. Women tend to use it by being moms. Men tend to use it by being more of a dad, but also by using it as a semi-sabbatical to publish more. I should know -- that's what I did. So an innovation that was designed to allow redress gender imbalances actually exacerbated them.
Now is ordinarily the time in the blog post when I offer my own suggestions, but I can't say I have any great ideas. So I'll leave it to the readers: what is to be done?
So my post earlier this week on the comparative advantages and disadvantages for women getting Ph.D.s to advance a career in foreign policy generated a lot of traffic, and some few very useful addendums. It also generated some accusations that my discourse is sexist, heteronormative, etc. I'm going to
marginalize ignore the latter, because the people who took offense at, say, the title of my post are the people who will take offense at sneezing wrong.
Instead, here are three follow-on thoughts from Official Friend of the Blog Amy B. Zegart, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution:
I call the PhD for women "the don't mess with me degree." Particularly in national security, when you're dealing with military officers (most of them men) who literally wear their accomplishments on their clothing, walking in the room with "Dr." in your title goes a long way to confer immediate legitimacy. The PhD says, "this woman is smart AND masochistic enough to survive a grueling doctoral program."
This is an excellent observation, and one I heard from several other women who went the doctoral route. Zegart's second observation:
Because women in national security are relatively few and far between, we tend to get asked to do more things to show that women in national security can do more things. This is where good intentions can have perverse effects: "wouldn't it be great to have a woman to speak that conference/committee/donor event/parents' weekend panel?" can lead to overload, particularly for female junior faculty. The antidote (saying no) is not hard in theory but it is in practice.
I strongly suspect that this is a problem for both women and minorities. Being underrepresented means being asked to perform a greater number of "service" functions in the name of diversity. The result is a genuine tax on junior people in policy and scholarly career tracks. Learning to say "no" without fear is an incredibly valuable and hard-to-master skill.
Zegart's last point:
I don't think... the beginning and end of the PhD [are] the only two tough times. The middle may be worse in terms of women losing ground relative to male peers. One reason is parental leave policies. Here, too, the reasons are counter-intuitive. Many dads are very involved parents, but let's face it, they don't have the same body parts as women. Biology means that most women have a much greater physical toll associated with childbirth and the raising of small kids than men do. So treating dads and mom the same (tenure clock extensions, course reductions for all faculty, regardless of gender) really isn't treating them the same at all -- because there's a higher chance that dads can physically use the extra time for research while moms are still brain dead from round-the-clock nursing and infant childcare. By my third kid, I finally figured out that the best strategy was NOT to use maternity leave right after childbirth; instead, I taught, and negotiated to bank the maternity leave time for the following year, when I was rested enough to make the most of that time to write my next book.
So here you go.
Erik Voeten reminds us that now is the time "when undergraduates interested in a career in political science have to choose between PhD programs." Erik offers some very useful pointers on how to choose, but there is a deeper question to ask -- is it worth it to get a Ph.D. in political science? As one graduate student blogging at Duck of Minerva puts it:
I'm loving graduate school; it's been on balance the best time of my life; and nevertheless there have been times when (to quote a colleague) I've wished I'd taken the blue pill and kept my job.
Or, as Steve Saideman phrases it:
[A] PhD in Political Science should only be for those who are passionate and curious and do not care where they end up living. And that they need to be aware that the job market can be pretty challenging and stressful.
Checking my blog archives, I see that I've mused on this topic before -- so, rather than repeat myself, here are some links. If you're wondering about the virtues of getting a Ph.D. vs. a policy degree like SAIS or Fletcher, click here and here. If you're really interested in politics and are debating between a Ph.D., a law degree, or going the apprentice route, click here.
But I want to blog about a question related to something buzzing about the foreign policy blogosphere: what if you're female? Micah Zenko at CFR and Diana Wueger at Gunpowder & Lead have blogged about the underrepresentation of women in foreign policy positions in the government, think tanks or the academy. Wueger asks readers to "spend 10 minutes thinking about what you can do to help your female staff or friends or Twitterbuddies to advance in their careers."
After ten minutes, I have some positive words and some cautionary, bordeline controversial pieces of advice. Here goes.
My hunch is that, all else equal, the value-added of getting a Ph.D. might be greater for women than men. Wueger blogs about a big problem: the difficulty/trepidation that women have when seeking mentors, particularly if their field is dominated by men. The advantage of getting a Ph.D. is that it pretty much forces the person to work hard at collecting mentors and advisors. Furthermore, these relationships are forged through years of TAing, RAing, and pleading for dissertation advice. So, even if women are shyer about seeking mentors/male advisors are warier about advising female students, these barriers can be broken down with time.
That's the good news. The bad news is two-fold. First, Wueger argues that the assignments women get at the outset have a powerful effect on their later careers:
There’s a gap in the types of tasks women and men are assigned early in their careers. Intentionally or not, women tend to given more administrative or support work rather than policy or research work; path dependence takes over from there. I recall a prominent scholar regularly asking his female research assistant (RA) to pick up his dry cleaning and take his car to the shop—things he didn’t ask of male RAs.
OK, for the record,
my male RAs were too forgetful to request as little starch as possible this is a problem, but I suspect it's decreasing. The more serious problem operates through a subtler channel -- women might get shunted into research areas that are seen as more female-friendly. For example, I believe that more women study international political economy or international organizations than international security. Even within security studies, I suspect that there are more women studying "human security" than more standard guns & bombs kind of security. This might be due to interest, but there are path-dependent effects at work, and so successive waves of women go into those fields in greater numbers. So, that's a thing.
The second problem is, I suspect, even greater and trickier to discuss, but here goes. Unlike the apprentice or professional degree paths, the Ph.D. route to a foreign policy career has a few BIG decision-making nodes that have profound effects on a person's career choice. For the Ph.D., the first job after getting one's doctorate matters a lot, particularly if said Ph.D. is pursuing the academic career track. The first job can define whether you want to be thought of as a researcher first, a teacher first, a policy wonk first, and so forth. Also, it usually requires moving -- with the exception of Ph.D. granting institutions in-Boston-well-not-in-Boston-but-nearby-no-not-Tufts, universities do not hire their own.
The thing is, most people are between 27-32 years of age when they complete their Ph.D.. This also happens to be the peak demographic of the whole getting married/having children phase of life. And, women tend to marry men a few years older than them. The professional difference between 50 and 53 is negligible, but those few years can make a HUGE difference in one's late twenties/early thirties. It means that, on average and regardless of career choice, the man in the relationship is more firmly embedded down his career path.
For newly-minted women Ph.D.s, this can impose profound constraints on career choices. Their best job offer might be inconvenient for their spouse's career, and so they pass on it. I saw this very dynamic play out multiple times with female colleagues when I was in graduate school. There are a lot of good reasons to subordinate one's first job choice to family considerations, but it has a negative impact on one's long-term career trajectory.
[What about you?--ed. As a man, the age effect was reversed. My fiancee was younger and therefore at a more embryonic stage of her career, which meant she was more portable. For the record, I accepted a post-doc that I otherwise wouldn't have taken for her career, but this was a minimal sacrifice. It only delayed my first job by a year and I got a ton of writing done during those twelve months.]
This problem is not unique to those earning doctorates. Those with non-Ph.D. career tracks , however, have more career-decision nodes at later and earlier ages. I suspect this problem is magnified for Ph.D.s in a way that it isn't for those who pursue more apprentice-oriented or shorter-degree tracks. But I'd be interested in hearing differing opinions on this in the comments below.
So, to sum up: if you're a woman and you're trying to pursue a foreign policy career, there are some advantages by getting the Ph.D., but there are big pitfalls at the beginning and end of getting the doctorate. I urge you to have a good sense of what you want to study before someone shapes that decision for you. And have some good, long conversations with any potential spouse about what you want to do with your career.
Am I missing anything? Seriously, am I?
I'm going to go out on a limb and state unequivocally that I think civil liberties and gender equality are Very Good Things. All else equal, I'd much rather live in a society in which freedom of speech is protected and women have all of the rights and opportunities afforded to men.
I bring this up because a common assumption that guides much of global economic policy is that as developing countries get richer, they will start valuing these qualities as well. There's a belief that regardless of the sequencing, political modernization will not trail too far behind economic modernization. Even in anomalous countries like Singapore, for example, there are trends suggesting that richer societies start demanding all those political and personal freedoms that many in the West take for granted. Crudely and simply put, a guiding assumption behind much Western policymaking (as well as many foes of the West writ large) is that modernization = Westernization.
I bring this up because China and India are, at the present moment, trying to prove this assumption is wrong. China has been getting very rich very fast, and yet the Chinese government seems more repressive than ever. So much for political liberties.
In some ways, India is even more troubling, as the New York Times' Jim Yardley report:
India's increasing wealth and improving literacy are apparently contributing to a national crisis of “missing girls,” with the number of sex-selective abortions up sharply among more affluent, educated families during the past two decades, according to a new study.
The study found the problem of sex-selective abortions of girls has spread steadily across India after once being confined largely to a handful of conservative northern states. Researchers also found that women from higher-income, better-educated families were far more likely than poorer women to abort a girl, especially during a second pregnancy if the firstborn was a girl....
The study, being published in the British medical journal The Lancet, is the latest evidence of India’s worsening imbalance in the ratio of boys to girls. The 2011 Indian census found 914 girls for every 1,000 boys among children 6 six or younger, the lowest ratio of girls since the country gained independence in 1947. The new study estimated that 4 million to 12 million selective abortions of girls have occurred in India in the past three decades....
Dr. Prabhat Jha, a lead author of the study, noted that the use of sex-selective abortions expanded throughout the country as the use of ultrasound equipment became more widespread. Typically, women from wealthier, better-educated families are more likely to undergo an ultrasound, Mr. Jha said, and researchers found that these families are far more likely to abort a girl if the firstborn is a daughter.
“This is really a phenomenon of the educated and the wealthy that we are seeing in India,” said Mr. Jha, director of the Center for Global Health Research at the University of Toronto.
Census data has already confirmed that the problem has accelerated since 2001. The 2011 census found about 7.1 million fewer girls than boys under the age of 6, compared with a gap of roughly 6 million girls a decade earlier (emphasis added).
The steady decline in the ratio is surprising, and counterintuitive, in view of India's progress in recent decades in improving the levels of female literacy and increases in income per person....
the value of the analysis by Jha and colleagues is mainly independent confirmation of two important aspects of the sex ratio in India that have been reported previously with different data. The first is that sex imbalance at birth seems to be particularly concentrated in households with high education and wealth. This pattern suggests that dominance of the son-preference norm is unlikely to be offset, at least in the short term, by socioeconomic development. Second is that the overall problem of sex imbalance seems to arise throughout India, including in Kerala, which has often been characterised as a model state for social development and gender equality. The problem of sex imbalance seems to be a function of socioeconomic status, not geography.
As India gets richer, this problem will only get worse.
Now, this might be one of those "it's always darhest before the dawn" kind of trends, in which after a certain wealth threshhold, trends will shift back towards a more classical liberal direction. Maybe. I don't know, and anyone else who tells you that they know is bulls**tting you. Based on this study, however, the question of whether China and India will ever embrace liberal political and cultural norms is not going to go away anytime soon.
What do you think?
Mr. Obama compared his infrastructure plan to the Eisenhower-era construction of the Interstate System of highways. It brings back the Eisenhower era in a less appealing way as well: there are almost no women on this road to recovery. Back before the feminist revolution brought women into the workplace in unprecedented numbers, this would have been more understandable. But today, women constitute about 46 percent of the labor force. And as the current downturn has worsened, their traditionally lower unemployment rate has actually risen just as fast as men’s. A just economic stimulus plan must include jobs in fields like social work and teaching, where large numbers of women work (emphasis added).There's a word to describe Hirshman's argument here. I think the word is "wrong," since it's based on a faulty premise:
Men are losing jobs at far greater rates than women as the industries they dominate, such as manufacturing, construction, and investment services, are hardest hit by the downturn. Some 1.1 million fewer men are working in the United States than there were a year ago, according to the Labor Department. By contrast, 12,000 more women are working. This gender gap is the product of both the nature of the current recession and the long-term shift in the US economy from making goods, traditionally the province of men, to providing services, in which women play much larger roles, economists said. For example, men account for 70 percent of workers in manufacturing, which shed more than 500,000 jobs over the past year. Healthcare, in which nearly 80 percent of the workers are women, added more than 400,000 jobs. “As the recession broadens, the gap between men and women is going to close somewhat,” said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. “But right now, the sectors that are really getting pounded are intensely male.”Click here for more background information on the data provided above. Now, maybe this is unfair -- maybe more women have entered the labor force, and therefore their unemployment rate has risen as fast as men. Nope, that's not it. Monthly data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Hirschman's assumpton is a flat-out falsehood. Immediately prior to the start of the recession (November 2007), the unemployment rate for men was 4.7%; the rate for women was 4.6%. As of November 2008, the unemployment rate for men has increased to 7.2%, while the unemployment rate for women has only risen to 6%. So, to sum up: there is no way to spin this data to support the assumption that drives Hirschman's op-ed. Readers are invited to proffer their reasons for a) how Hirshman could be so wrong in her premise; and b) why the New York Times op-ed page did not fact-check this out of the essay. UPDATE: Hirshman provides her rationale for this assumption in a comment over at Megan McArdle's site:
Here is the data from the November report of the BLS, available to anyone with a click of the mouse, showing the female unemployment rate rising as the downturn worsened, and, coincidentally, the jobs stimulus rose to the top of the political pile as the salient issue. Since extracting information from printed sources does not seem to be your strong suit, allow me to summarize the data: From October to November 2008, men's and women's unemployment rate rose .2. From September, 2008 to November, 2008, which was when the downturn worsened, men's unemployment rate rose .4 and women's .6.This is, at best, cherry-picking the data, because it ignores the massive gender splits of the eight months of the recession prior to September. If the recession started in December of last year, I don't see a reason for looking only at a couple of months of data. ANOTHER UPDATE: Hirshman posts another comment below, which is essentially a reprint of what she wrote at McArdle's site. My response:
Nonfarm payroll employment fell sharply (-533,000) in November, and the unemployment rate rose from 6.5 to 6.7 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. November's drop in payroll employment followed declines of 403,000 in September and 320,000 in October, as revised. Job losses were large and widespread across the major industry sectors in November.Since every other sector of the economy is asking for federal assistance, I'm wondering if this Boston Globe story by Robert Gavin will prompt the male gender to ask for special assistance:
Men are losing jobs at far greater rates than women as the industries they dominate, such as manufacturing, construction, and investment services, are hardest hit by the downturn. Some 1.1 million fewer men are working in the United States than there were a year ago, according to the Labor Department. By contrast, 12,000 more women are working. This gender gap is the product of both the nature of the current recession and the long-term shift in the US economy from making goods, traditionally the province of men, to providing services, in which women play much larger roles, economists said. For example, men account for 70 percent of workers in manufacturing, which shed more than 500,000 jobs over the past year. Healthcare, in which nearly 80 percent of the workers are women, added more than 400,000 jobs. "As the recession broadens, the gap between men and women is going to close somewhat," said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. "But right now, the sectors that are really getting pounded are intensely male." The divide is far starker than it was in last recession, when the technology crash battered professional and technical sectors in which women now hold more than 40 percent of jobs. From the beginning of 2001 to the beginning of 2002, the number of employed men declined by about 900,000, while the population of women with jobs fell by about 700,000.In semi-seriousness, one wonders if this kind of gender breakdown will lead to a skew in infrastructure spending towards male-dominated industries (like road construction) rather than female-friendly infrastructure sectors (like, say, expanding broadband capabilities or boosting education spending).
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.