Saturday, March 28, 2009

Men Less Powerful in the Boardroom and Bedroom?

Tune up your violins and bring on the ratchet rhapsody. Recessions not only hit the bank account; they affect martial and domestic relationships too!

I recently read an article in the New York Times that reported more men are losing their jobs than women; over 80% of job losses due to economic recession are affecting men.

For the first time in American history, women may soon surpass men when it comes to payroll. That is big news! Reasons for this may be that the jobs being lost are in the hardest hit areas like construction, held primarily by men. Women tend to hold jobs in more recession secure areas such as health care. One drawback is that women’s salaries have traditionally been seen as supplemental income. Women still only make 80 cents on the dollar compared to men, and often hold less financially rewarded jobs with little or no benefits.

Traditional gender roles are in for some fast moving and turbulent changes! We’ve come a long way from the era when homemaker Mom made dinner in the kitchen every night while breadwinner Dad relaxed over a martini, but there are more changes on the horizon. The division of domestic labor will swing more toward men picking up the slack as disposable income used for take-out and housekeeping services dry up. It stands to reason that marital relationships are bound for significant changes as well.

How we go about embracing these changes will play a major part in our long-term happiness. This shift will translate into the household and even into the bedroom. Men may struggle with feeling displaced or inadequate and may have a hard time coping. Women may struggle with the fear and pressure of survival on only one income. How do you support each other through these trying times?

Men, who are traditionally less likely to seek behavioral health services, will be in need of new forms of support to help deal with these changes. See how some brave men are tackling this head on in a brief CNN Video.

How is the recession and changing roles affecting you and your relationship? Comments and discussion are always welcome.


Anonymous said...

What do yo do in a situation where the woman has to take on a second underpaid job because her husband lost his job. He could take on that underpaid job, or help around the house, take up the slack with the kids, etc., but his "job coach" at unemployment said he shouldn't, his full time job is to find a full time job. That's fine and dandy in theory, but in the meantime, the kids, the house, and the wife are falling apart. How do you even begin to support each other when he's getting crap advice and following it?

Joseph A. Banken, MA, PhD said...

I just returned from Scotland to present some research and and found a Cambridge University showed that despite more women than men losing their jobs in Britain due to the credit crunch, men who think they may be fired or made unnecessary are likely to become more stressed and depressed than women. This is an interesting twist on what we have started discussing here in the United States.

The machismo about men being the breadwinner both at home and in the boardroom seems universal.

Dr. Brendan Burchell from the University of Cambridge's sociology department is conducting great research in this area.

Joseph A. Banken, MA, PhD said...

Dear Anonymous,

This is an excellent point. I thank you for bringing this up. The concern that you have expressed is all to common.

I too, would wonder about the advice the job coach might be providing. Keep in mind that job coaching is often done by people who may not have specific training in the area of counseling or advice-giving. Even if the job coach has professional credentials, I am not convinced this is the best advice to follow.

It sounds like your husband might be better advised to find any kind gainful work that helps the family. Also, I doubt that not working is good for his self-confidence and job skills, and certainly this is not good for the family. The old adage pretty-much rings true today: It is easier to find a better job, when at least you have a current job.

My thoughts are to get of the couch and get back into the workforce!

Thanks for your post on this important topic. I would be interested to hear your additional feedback about this.

Anonymous said...

I think that there is another important side to this point. I read some recent research that compared with people who are straight-up laid off, those who keep their job and are under a constant threat of losing it suffer a greater decline in psychological well-being. Do you think this has any truth to it? If so, having a job may create as much stress as not having a job! I have a job but find myself worrying about the risk that my job may be eliminated, and then I will join the bulging ranks of people who are out of work.

Joseph A. Banken, MA, PhD said...

You bring up an excellent point. There is truth to what you have reported.

People are talking about this in most job sectors. Some report that they are even fearful of taking vacations and even sick leave and family medical leave, because upon returning they may find their job has been eliminated or outsourced. Others are concerned that they may be replaced by younger workers who will work for less money. Indeed, there is a great deal of anx about job stability with the economic downturn.

This would be a great time to update your job resume and sharpen job skills and skill sets, which make you are more valuable employee anyway. Then, in the event your position is eliminated, you are ready to hit the job search much more prepared.In other words, let's put your worry to a positive use. We can't change the economic downturn, but we can change what we do about it.

Thanks for the excellent post.