Friday, 11 February 2011

The feminisation of markets

Life is rolling along at amazing speed. Back in the chair at work, but my mind remains firmly on women as I reflect on my time in Bangladesh and Peru, the amazing places I visited and the inspiring women  I met everywhere. 

I am also reflecting (on a higher level) about where women 'sit' in the world. Some ten years ago researchers predicted that we would move towards a feminized economy and it looks like we are starting to make some inroads into this. Whether and to what extend it differs in developed vs. developing economies is another question. 

I've been reading about the decline of men, how since the 1950s the image of women has gone through numerous make-overs and how the power of women is on the rise in the marketplace and at home. Indeed, in a TED address Hanna Rosin shows how (in America) women are surviving much better than men in these financially difficult times and goes as far as to quote a source that claims men are 'the new ball and chain'.

Early on in my travels I came across a Newsweek article (September 27) entitled 'What's the matter with men?" It delivers the direst of prognoses, that men are in decline and it's time to reclaim maleness as a force, as a phenomenon. One Harvard professor even goes as far as advocate action and aggression. Good going professor - what century do you live in? But have things indeed gone that far and do men really need rescueing? And wouldn't it be better if we strive for equal and shared value for all?

I am interested in exploring this further and intend to take a closer look at what is happening, what it means for women if and when feminine values become accepted into our ICT-enabled society and macho business world...


Stuart said...
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Stuart said...

I would tend to argue the changing role of women in Western society really started in the early 1960s when the widespread availability of oral contraception gave women control of their reproductive cycle for the first time.
And the rise of women in many areas of Western society, such as politics, the arts, medicine and academe has lead to a change in men's status - a change which has undermined men's self confidence and sense of worth. In some ways a somewhat ironic reversal of the position many women were in in earlier times, but so far, in Australia at least, this change has been of limited scope in private sector businesses. The glass ceiling is still very much there in Australian companies.
As you say, it will be interesting to observe the consequences of increasing feminisation of private sector businesses (ICT or otherwise). For many men, their work is an integral part of their identity and when the change rolls through, as I'm sure it will, it will be very unsettling for many men who will experience it as a loss of societal status and personal self-worth. There may be even greater resistance to what they will see as women's "encroachment" in this area than there has been in others, especially when older men are confronted with younger, women bosses.

patricebb said...

And I would tend to agree ~ no one likes to be 'de-throned' and reaction is likely to be strong if not violent. As I was reading this I thought, funny (not!) that we now have both men and women lacking self-confidence.