Women are going to college in greater numbers than ever before; they are achieving success in fields that used to be dominated by men, and they are finally breaking the glass ceiling and taking over CEO roles at major companies.
These accomplishments should be perceived as a welcome change, because it means as a society we have a larger pool of intelligent, creative leaders in our workforce now that so many women are embracing and advancing careers.
But instead of seeing the positives that this brings to society, men are feeling threatened. They now have to compete against women at all levels, and some think it is causing young men to just give up.
A male family member of mine bemoaned the “lost” generation of guys in their 20s — still living at home, not motivated to do great things, not fulfilling their potential. His intelligent, capable, teenage son is losing interest in school and may end up going to community college, unlike his engineer father — the first in his second-generation immigrant family to get a bachelor’s degree, which he earned from a prestigious university.
While I don’t want to see boys flounder and certainly have high hopes for my teenage son (and daughter) — both currently in honors and AP classes and on track to get university degrees — I was not dismayed by this observation like he was.
I told him it’s our turn now. The fact that girls are perceived by many young people today as the “smarter” gender is not a bad thing. Maybe we are, and maybe we aren’t. But for too many centuries, women were generally cast aside as unable to contribute meaningfully, and it’s a welcome change for women to be considered not only capable, but superior.
Ask any teenager about the differences between the sexes. Teen girls are thought of as more motivated, more organized and more hard working than teen boys — and those perceptions are based on the fact that they occupy more than half the spots in school in leadership positions, on the honor roll, in the National Honor Society and even in the top 2 percent of their class as shown in the attached picture — at least in the suburban school districts where I live.
I am smiling along with all those happy faces on the senior girls and the female principal.
I have faith that this generation will keep their career aspirations building even as they become women and mothers, even if my generation didn’t fully accomplish that challenge.
If society supports its best and brightest with flexible schedules, generous maternity leave and affordable child care, these bright girls will reach their potential and move the world forward. If corporate America and Congress don’t address these pressing issues soon enough, these young ladies will take over leadership roles and do it themselves. They have the numbers and the will to rule.
It will mean a better future for all of us.
In 20 years, the female-shaped world will be led by those who prioritize cooperation over confrontation, thoughtful strategy over rash reaction, health over commerce, knowledge over strength, compassion over revenge, innovation over inertia, conservation over consumption, long range over short term, communication over ambiguity, nurture over abandonment, patience over restlessness, diplomacy over war.
Welcome to the new reality boys. It’s been a long time coming.