Gender & The Workplace

As reported in the New York Times last Friday, men are bearing the brunt of this recession, due to large-scale layoffs in male dominated industries, such as manufacturing, construction and financial services. The number of unemployed men has surged 62 percent over the last 12 months, going from 4.2 million in January 2008 to nearly 6.8 million last month, according to the latest employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate among men currently stands at 8.3 percent, up from 5.1 percent a year ago.

Women have not escaped unscathed, but they have been helped by continued growth in sectors traditionally dominated by women, including education and health care services. Even with these bright spots, however, the number of unemployed women has increased 44 percent to 4.8 million from about 3.4 million in January 2008.

The number of women as a percentage of total employment is only slightly higher than it was a decade ago (see following charts). However, if the recession continues unabated and continues to have a heavier impact on men, it is possible that the number of employed women could outnumber employed men for the first time in history.

What challenges do dual-income households face when one or both earners become unemployed?

How might a female-dominated workforce alter the labor landscape?

Do men and women approach the job search differently? Should they?

As the economy increasingly relies on brains versus brawn, will women finally achieve equal treatment and equal pay?

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