July 23 2010

The War of the Sexes... Let's call it off.

Hadley Heath

Lately, Americans have been in some nasty arguments about who's better off:  They say, "Men make more money!" or "More women go to college!" 

But finally, from the New York Times of all places, there's a voice of reason.  In his most recent column, "Don't Write Off Men Just Yet," Nicholas D. Kristof suggests a truce in the war of the sexes.  Here at IWF, we've always been in favor of success for both men and women!

Kristof explains that women may dominate today's work force because the American economy has shifted from industrial work to services, which reduces the value of male traits like physical strength and size and increases the value of social and communication skills, which are typically women's strengths.  This came as no surprise to me.  These same "female" skills, communication skills and the ability to sit still and focus, are the primary areas where female students outperform their male counterparts in school.  (This is another argument for the option of single-sex education, shown to improve the performance of both boys and girls by catering to their different gender-based development!)

I'm a product of America's recently female-dominated school system.  The speakers at my high school graduation were all girls (the top three students in class rank), and then I attended UNC-Chapel Hill (notorious for a high female-male ratio).  But Kristof says I shouldn't write off men just yet.  And I agree with him!  Regardless of the skills needed for today's economy, men and women can help each other succeed.   I can't put it better than he did:

I think we exaggerate the degree to which the sexes are mired in conflict. As Henry Kissinger once said, "Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes. There's too much fraternizing with the enemy." We men want our wives and daughters to encounter opportunity in the workplace, not sexual harassment; women want their husbands and sons to be in the executive suite, not jail. Nearly all of us root for fairness, not for our own sex.

That's right.  Women and men both want to be successful, but not at the cost of the failure of the opposite sex. 

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