The Day When Women Are In Charge

It is coming. Rest assured. Be nice.

Skilled as most men are at ignoring the facts, particularly as they pertain to women, far too many research studies (Pew Research, The National Bureau of Economic Research, et. al) now report that women have been outpacing men at an increasing rate at all levels of educational attainment. No amount of testosterone can continue to cloud male thinking enough to ignore the meaning behind these facts. Since the 1970s, American women have been much more likely to graduate from high school. In the academic year ending in 2010, women earned 57.4 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in the United States, up from 9.1 percent in 1971. American men must begin to see the handwriting on the wall, and be at least as insightful as those Middle East despots who are dead certain that the education of women is the threat to preserving their patriarchies.

Those who do not think that our own patriarchy may go the way of the eight track tape and the beeper may cite that women only hold 5 percent of the CEO jobs at S&P 500 companies, or the fact that women are only 20 percent of the US Congress. This would ignore that fact that as recently as 1990 there were zero such female CEOs, and fully one third of all the women who ever served in the Congress are current members. The Macolm Gladwell book, Tipping Point, can explain the fact that these two numbers, and women’s pay, lag behind the educational numbers. Majority positions tend to hold back minority ones against a rising tide, until there is a “tipping point.” This happened most recently, when support for same sex marriage turned on an invisible fulcrum and was suddenly the majority position.

And that may not be unrelated to the movement of women into the workplace and through the university system. Whatever Hillary Clinton’s support was among women, it is practically a guarantee that she was supported by almost 100 percent among women who have been unfairly passed over for promotion. And the numbers of those women will increase, so long as there continues to be that lag between the educational indicators and pay and promotion. In bringing on this inevitable tipping point, had the election of a woman President occurred it could have been said to have been a seminal event, except that adjective too should become obsolete.

Nor should any of this encourage men to retreat to their man caves, drink more beer, and ramp up locker room behavior in the workplace in a vain attempt to hold back the tide. It will not be as bad as all that. It will not be the End of Men, the title of a wonderful book by Hanna Rosin, who understands that her title is a bit sensational and that when women are in charge it will not be nearly as bad for men as men have historically made if for women. No matriarchy has ever been as violent or hierarchical as their counterparts. All any man need remember is how his own mother treated him.

Robert Sapolsky reported an interesting study of our primate cousins, the baboons, in 1990, in Scientific American. Apparently, the alpha male baboons died off in a troop in which the hierarchy was typically fiercely enforced. In fact, it happened because they only allowed themselves to feed at what turned out to be a tainted garbage dump. The result was the surviving females and the non-dominant males developed a cooperative system that was far less violent and hierarchical. The report does not mention whether these males no longer felt they needed to drive fancy cars or throw around a lot of money in order to attract the females, but the mating became more general and no longer only the province of the alpha males. Dr. Susan Block, in her book, The Bonobo Way, refers to these newly empowered non-dominant baboon males as the “nice guys,” meaning it was no longer the case that nice guys finished last.

Some may say that Donald Trump, whose most substantive attacks on Hillary Clinton and other women always devolve to comments about appearance, might illustrate this “baboon paradigm.” Bill Clinton had been poised to take the title of my novel, The First First Gentleman, and many eyes would have been on how he would have assumed that role. How well and how distinctly he supported the woman in his life as a candidate had surely been watched very closely, as an example of the redefining what is masculine, because there can never be any question that he is very much a male. Tipping points are rarely reached solely by the efforts of the minority or disempowered, but when the party in power makes the change. The change will occur when men lean in. Corporate boards may realize that they can double their talent pools from which to select a CEO, by actively considering women. And men will lose their fragile defensiveness and see that they can still be men, and let a woman run the show.

(Gerald Weaver is the author of the novel, The First First Gentleman, August 2016, London Wall Publishing. His well-received first novel, Gospel Prism, was published in May 2015.)