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April 13, 2006

Women in the Workforce: The Importance of Sex

My buddy Bill Meade pointed out this article in the Economist to me:


Very interesting and eye-opening about the economic power of women. The Economist provides a day pass for people who aren't subscribers.

The first paragraph of the story is:

EVEN today in the modern, developed world, surveys show that parents still prefer to have a boy rather than a girl. One longstanding reason why boys have been seen as a greater blessing has been that they are expected to become better economic providers for their parents' old age. Yet it is time for parents to think again. Girls may now be a better investment.


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Everyone will continually assume that making money is more important than home making because most people assume that home making can be done by anyone. I mean what qulaities make a good home maker? However when people are successful making money, they assume that person has something special about them- intellectual sense, great personality, savy, authoritative, dedicated, ect, ect. I only read the preview of the article, and I for one think that it should be, and is still a mans world especially in th U.S. where I live. Still it seems that men are making the most money and are in the highest positions in most professions. Even though there are more women going to college, there are still many men going, and the phenomenon is more placed in lower economic groups and minorities. Women have been the magority on college campuses since 1979 and it is still a male dominated world. I just don't see the world changing much, and men still dominate among the highest paid individuals by almost like fifty percent or something. Just look around and it is relatively easy to see who makes most of the money

"What is clear is that in countries such as Japan, Germany and Italy, which are all troubled by the demographics of shrinking populations, far fewer women work than in America, let alone Sweden. If female labour-force participation in these countries rose to American levels, it would give a helpful boost to these countries' growth rates."

As a professional who works full time at a large corporation and balances life at home with a husband and 7 month old daughter (with essential help from a fabulous daycare provider), I can tell you that I am excited to have more children because my employer is supportive of working mothers AND because my childcare is excellent. I'm certain that the Scandinavian daycare system is a significant factor in those countries' strong birth rates. My daughter only benefits from knowing that a number of loving, reliable adults care for her day-to-day--not just me!

I remember reading about this issue with regards to micro-lending in India. Basically, institutions such as the Grameen Bank, that make entrepreneurial micro-loans, often pick women and their peer-groups as the recipients of the loans.

Need some help?

The article makes for an interesting read, but to a woman, that is all old hat. I think that it is not the simplified econmic arguments in the article that actually corroborate the fact that women are very very productive, and indeed have not been taken too seriously lately. That lately boils down for the last few hundred years or so. For all that I know the situation may have been a bit better, although life expectancy a lot shorter, a few thousand years ago.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Interesting... I am happy that the Chinese give up their girls as we are going to get one soon :)

I have a boy now and it can be a challenge. I look forward to a balance and some more female energy.

As a female professional (ex-corporate) I, personally, felt I had to work harder than a man to get where I was going.

It's all about the money, right?

I love the way the article makes light of the fact that women who join the workforce and care for children sacrifice leisure and sleep time. No big deal. It's only their life.

The article also tries to draw a link between participation in the labor force and birthrate when in fact there may not be any such link. Low birth rates in Japan and Italy could be the result of any number of factors or combination of factors.

At the end of the day, I agree with Laura and Harry. My wife has been a stay at home mom for the entirety of our marriage. In my opinion, we are a team doing life together. There is little doubt in my mind that she does the more important work and works harder than I do. My job is to bring home the money to finance the more important functions of this household. Bringing home the money is a means to an end. I support my wife while she focuses on the important tasks.


I hear you about working together bit.
The first thing I have to drum into the young women I mentor is that life is a team sport.
There's no extra credit, no big fat finishing bonus for succeeding alone, merely a decreased probability of doing so.

Drat, you're letting all the secrets out of the bag.

Says someone who has been happily marketing to women very successfully for years.

"I have an idea that the phrase "weaker sex" was coined by some woman to disarm the man she was preparing to overwhelm." ~Ogden Nash

that article was a very interesting read, however it doesn't even go near important socialization aspects. women need to learn how to work together!! honestly, i think a lot of what prevents women from succeding is how we are conditioned to compete with each other rather than work together. i often have more trouble with other women in my workplace than with other men (including bosses!).

thanks!! augustina

ps.. i was excited to find your blog, guy, i am a big fan of your books and wish more companies followed your suggestions!!

While the article does not seem overly bias it does lean toward the notion that jobs where you get paid money has precedence over things that don't. That is not true at all. Why is it should home-making from any perspective be looked down upon merely because it's different? A difference in task does not mean a difference in merit. Taking care of children and tending to emotional matters is just as important as bringing in a pay check (if not more so). Can anyone honestly say that a child could raise him/herself if you just gave them enough money? Because this is what it all boils down to doesn't it, receiving pay and being on "par" with the man? To that article writer I say pah!

Natalie, even today when I tell people I'm a work-at-home Dad they figure I don't really do anything. I've gotten used to it...

"Others fear that women's move into the paid labour force can come at the expense of children."
I love the way the option of men staying at home 50% of the time is completely overlooked!

The strongest argument to me for gender parity in the workplace and at home is that both benefit from diversity. There are as many female consumers as male consumers, and business benefits from the point of view of both. Likewise, kids benefit from seeing that both parents put care into the home. The Economist article cited by Kawasaki and his friend lists some of the positive differences of having female points of view in high positions of power.

In addition, I think it can't be understated how helpful it is to relationships between partners (and men and women generally) to take on the burdens usually assigned to the other - it's the best way to empathize with someone else. Women have long subsidized work and families with unpaid and underappreciated work, much to their own detriment in regards to power in the public sphere. It's time for both sexes to demand more from life than gender-prescribed roles.

I have twin girls aged six and have always thought they were easier to raise than my hyperactive boy. And my mom told me at least I have two angels who will look over me in my old age. Talk about the economic benefits doesn't matter at all


No, I'm not that sly. Mostly it's because I detest the fact that people seem to always assume that CEOs and entrepreneurs are men.

Frankly, "behind every successful man stands an amazed woman."


Is this why you seem to always call your subjects 'SHE'?

Just because something makes economic sense, doesn't mean that it makes complete sense.
Call me old-fashioned, but kids have been home alone or raised by strangers long enough.

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