Democracy vs. Gender: The Liberal Solution (part II)

Interestingly, as this 2001-02 Statistics Canada spreadsheet shows, 42% percent of registered undergraduates are male while 58% are female. Moreover, it is my understanding that these stats have gotten even more lopsided since this study was published. Indeed, from some professors I’ve talked to it is not unusual to have classes that are split 70-30 or even 80-20 in favour of female students.

I’m not sure that anyone has really grasped the seachange this will have on our society. For example, I’ve spoken to managing partners at law firms who are trying to “figure out” how to retain female attorney’s. They’d better work harder at cracking this problem – otherwise they’ll will wake up one morning and find there are no attorney’s left to make partner.

Many in management seem to still operate in an accomodation mode, trying to figure out how to alter the workplace on the margins in order to retain female talent. Marginal change will simply not cut it. Among professional firms the demand for greater flexibility to ensure a more effective balance between family and career will probably require significant structural changes to how firms are organized. Making women (or men) choose between the work or family is not going to cut it. In an aging workforce where their skills are in demand they will take their labour elsewhere. But here’s the bigger catch. Many, many men are going to demand this same flexibility as well. Consequently, I suspect this issue will be not framed in terms of a gender, but either as a general HR management challenge or a policy challenge that discriminates between married and single workers.

Politically, the interesting repercussion from all this is that, in 30-40 years, I suspect at least 50% of candidates could be women. Indeed we could end up in a world where the challenge is trying to achieve a candidate field that is at least 33% male. Wouldn’t that be interesting…

[tags]politics, gender, education, public policy[/tags]

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