Bring Your Questions for Hanna Rosin, Author of The End of Men

“In the Great Recession, three-quarters of the 7.5 million jobs lost were lost by men,” writes Hanna Rosin, author of the new book The End of Men (and the Rise of Women). “The worst-hit industries were overwhelmingly male, and deeply identified with macho: construction, manufacturing, high finance.  Some of those jobs have come back, but the dislocation is neither random nor temporary.  The recession merely revealed — and accelerated — a profound economic shift that has been going on for at least thirty years, and in some respects even longer.”

Rosin’s book (here are some reviews), based on her controversial 2010 Atlantic essay, explores the new American marriage divide, the education gap between young men and women around the world, and the new Asian power women.  Here’s Rosin on the evolution of marriage among women without a college degree:

[T]he rise of women is associated with the slow erosion of marriage and even a growing cynicism about love.  As the women in this second group slowly improve their lot, they raise the bar for what they want out of marriage — a Ryan Reynolds look-alike, a white Chevy.  But the men of their class are failing to meet their standards.  The men may cling to traditional ideals about themselves as providers, but they are further than ever from being able to embody these ideals.  This is the class from which we draw our romantic notions of manhood, which inspired generations of country music and political speeches.  But now the rising generation has come to think of lasting love as a fiction that lives on only in those speeches and pop songs.

By contrast, marriage among women with college degrees has evolved in a much different way:

Among the educated class, women’s new economic power has produced a renaissance of marriage.  Couples in possession of college degrees are much more fluid about who plays what role, who earns more money, and, to some extent, who sings the lullabies.  They have gone beyond equliaty and invented whole new models of marriage.  I call these seesaw marriages, where the division of earnings might be forty-sixty or eighty-twenty — and a year or two later may flip, giving each partner a shot at satisfaction.  More wives at the top are becoming the main breadwinners for some period of time, and, as a result of this new freedom, more couples are describing their marriages as “happy” or “very happy.”  But even “happy” can hide complications.

Rosin has agreed to take questions from Freakonomics readers, so fire away in the comments section below.  As always, we’ll post her answers in due course.  Here’s the book’s table of contents to get you started:

Hearts of Steel: Single Girls Master The Hook Up

The Seesaw Marriage: True Love (Just for Elites)

The New American Matriarchy (The Middle Class Gets a Sex Change)

Pharm Girls (How Women Remade the Economy)

Degrees of Difference (The Education Gap)

A More Perfect Poison (The New Wave of Female Violence)

The Top (Nice-Ish Girls Get the Corner Office)

The Gold Misses (Asian Women Take Over the World)

This post is no longer accepting comments. The answers to the Q&A can be found here.

Seminymous Coward

How taxing is it to stretch your claims into punchier, more extreme, and less nuanced forms? Specifically, do you find it harder (practically or psychologically) to defend your ideas after putting them through that filter?


Since women have passed men in employment and managerial positions, what effect will this have on congress (majority of men)? Will policies swing towards women anytime soon? How do we get more women running and winning congressional elections? Why is it that women are excelling from men in all other areas but not in politics? Kirsten Gillibrand (Senator - NY) had a great interview on The Daily Show about this exact topic.


Who is rooting for this plastic-women-over-unadaptable-men scenario in the long run? Also, how does this theory apply to her own marriage with David? Or if not, why doesn't it describe their relationship?


Since women are more prevalent in the workplace especially in managerial roles, how long do you think it will be before a similar change is reflected in congress (mostly men)? How long will it take for there to be an effect on policy? How do we get more women in congress? Kirsten Gillibrand had a great interview on The Daily Show on this topic.


Since women have over taken men in the workplace, when will public policy start to help women more (health care, maternal leave, paternal leave, etc.)? How can we get more women into congress? Kirsten Gillibrand (Senator - NY) had a great interview on The Daily Show about congress, public policy and women's role in it.

Enter your name...

About "Pharm Girls (How Women Remade the Economy)": I think your headline confuses cause and effect. The nature of working in community pharmacy changed, and it changed in ways that seem to have appealed to women (shift work, multiple pharmacists per site, being an employee rather than an owner, generous leave policies).

Do you think that women are less interested in owning their own retail pharmacy than men?


What will happen when the healthcare bubble bursts like a nuclear bomb? Millions of women will be out of work. Should women try to have it all? Or are women taxing themselves too much at the expense of their children's futures, their marriages, and their sanity? What about the exponentially growing population that needs to be employed, disintegrating fabric of family union, structural unemployment that puts increasing weight on economies? Is it worth it to try to have it all when wisdom says it is impossible to really have it all?


In predicting the end of certain types of men - "construction, manufacturing, high finance" - you seem to ignore the male-dominated field of science & technology, which has been doing much better than those others in the recent past. Care to comment?


Why is it that when there is systemic failure of men, it is seen as the failure of men themselves and men as a social construct. While, on the other hand a systemic failure of women is seen as a failure of the social and policital system, and need for reform / legilsation to put women "on equal footing."

How much do things such as Title IX, VAWA, and other "pro-fem" legislation contribute to "The End of Men"?

At some point will we see the idea of a men's and father's lobbying group (mirror of NOW) gain in relevance and credibility?


Your title seems deliberately confrontational, what was the reasoning behind it?


As stated in your book, in nearly 40% of American marriages, the wife earns more than the husband. Alimony laws in many jurisdictions, require the supporting spouse to maintain the supported spouse in the lifestyle to which the supported spouse has become accustomed. So the outcome will be that more women will potentially be paying alimony to men. However, alimony is a vestige of a time when women could not be expected to obtain employment outside of the home in a male dominated workforce and more often without the non-domestic skills necessary to achieve economic independence. Does this not suggest that the marital standard of living standard should be abandoned, or even that the concept of alimony should be abolished altogether?


Even though alimony laws were made gender neutral across the nation during the equal rights era in the 1970's, and societal norms have done an about face in the 40 years since, the proponents of alimony still use sexist arguments for maintaining the status quo. For example, in New Jersey recently, the Vice Chair of the Family Law Section of the NJ State Bar Association testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that "NJ alimony laws have been fine tuned over 35 years for the protection of women and children". With the alignment of powerful and influential forces to protect entitlements how long do you think it will take before gender equality filters into the family court?


What do you think of the Larry Summers claim that men and women are mostly equal in ability, but men are more skewed and so, for example, there are more mentally challenged males and there are more geniuses? If that's true, it seems like the implication may be that women may outclass men at the middle and above the middle but we may not see women at the top of various fields (at least to the extent that extremities lead one to the top of something).


I haven't read the book, but read excerpts that were recently published in the NY Times, in which you argue that women have adapted better to the realities of our global economy because in many cases they started their careers without big expectations and were more willing to adapt when necessary. In some ways, particularly for those lower on the economic ladder, the situations have now reversed, so what do you see happening over the next generation? Will young men today be as adaptable as young women 2-3 decades ago? Will today's young women allow their careers and ambitions to define them and leave them unwilling to adapt if forced to down the road?

Jez Nash

To what extent do you beleive that the growth of women in the workplace has contributed to downward pressure on wages? It is now much more difficult for a family to be supported by one wage earner either male or female than it was for previous generations. What can be be done or should anything be done to change this?


Does she feel different in the fallout of the financial crisis where the second wave of job losses appear to be public sector workers who are female? I know several female teachers who have either been laid off or are unhireable due to structural unemployment.


i'd like to departing from an Asian perspective, what is most difficult for women to be "successful" (let's put it in a most straight-forwarded way) in our society is that they have to resist the influences (pressure) coming from the overwhelmingly "conventional" social norm (woman should be caring more about domestic things), which requires tremendous efforts and power. I always believe that women sacrify more than men do. Women are always stereotyped as sensible, which are not the fittest attributes for game rules defined mostly by man.
According to your observation could you share your ideas about how women are impacted by biased social settings, stereotypes, and what's your suggestions to cast off all of those seemingly natural constrains?


First, I'd like to point out that the bulk of the argument is based on a recession that, for economic/global reasons, disproportionately affected male-dominated sectors of the economy. So, of course small businesses owned by women outperformed male-owned small businesses. However, this does not mean that these sectors were hit because they were manly/macho. What would that even mean? This may not be what the author intended to say, but the writing/reasoning is rather disingenuous. Furthermore, it is naive to assume that this spells any kind of permanent doom; I seriously doubt construction, manufacturing or high finance will become obsolete any time soon. Regardless of how big it gets, the tertiary sector (to which much of the money has been shifting and in which women thrive) will always depend on raw materials, goods, and capitalism.

Second, feminism is everywhere now. There are countless feminist bloggers, many grassroots feminist movements, groups and facebook pages taking on many different aspects of western culture, like Femen. It's actually more of a cultural wave, like the one that got "nerd" into the mainstream and got it to become cool. It's great. So I find it really hard to believe the assertion that women have abandoned both feminist and prefeminist preconceptions, as the author states. I see absolutely no widespread evidence of this. Of course, the author needs this to be true, because the rest of her argument depends on the idea that, in contrast, men supposedly still adhere to an outdated notion of "masculinity" that stifles their vision and personal/professional development.

The counterpoint to this idea is in her own writing: men in the so-called "seesaw marriages" do not seem to adhere to this harmful notion. What is different about them? Higher education. And men everywhere are doing notoriously bad in education. They get worse the higher it gets. Now, is it that men who do not adhere to an outdated masculinity are better equipped to get through school and college, or is it that getting through school and college has an effect in shaping men's attitudes towards women, marriage, gender roles, themselves? Given that the problem starts very early on, with even boys as young as 6 falling behind girls in the same classes, I'd be tempted to believe the second option, but I'd like some hard data on the issue before writing a book about it. Regardless, I think it's important we start getting serious about addressing those imbalances. Just like we did a few decades ago, when it was girls and women who were falling behind in grades and degrees.

I guess my question would be, how would the author respond to these observations?



for man to end, he will have to lay down his gun and surrender- is that happening?- ie are women making inroads into the military, particularly military leadership/administration?


My question drives to taking a deeper look at the traditionally male dominated industrial jobs and what has happened to the requirements to perform in those jobs in the high technology end of the segment.
Machine tool companies on a global scale are at the forefront of a new employment trend and are struggling to find competent, skilled, trained, reliable workers to do the job. They are in the frontline of the severe technical employee shortage.

The minimum requirements for today's high tech jobs are math skills, writing skills, computer skills, statistics and quality process training. These are the minimum requirements. Germany, Japan and Korea have a shortage of people across the board and are struggling to fill these kinds of jobs with anyone. The US still has population growth but the people contributing to the growth are lacking the skills and even the aptitude to be able to perform in a quality driven business environment. Then there are the soft skills in project management, time management and team dynamics that turn the competencies into a successful business.

The newest hottest technology out there is 3D printing: printers are used to make machined parts. The computer and engineering skills for employees in this field will be even beyond what is available today.

In childhood, boys on average have a much higher preference to play with tools to make (or break) stuff compared to girls. Education curricula tend not to consider practical application until its too late and career paths are already determined.

Where is this trend going to lead to? Are we going to run out of people to implement innovation just as the most exciting developments in several decades are ready for deployment ?