The Boys Feminism Left Behind

Writing for Common Sense, Richard V. Reeves explores the gender issues affecting boys and men today. Excerpts of the piece appear below:

In 1970, on American campuses males dominated. In undergraduate enrollment they were 58 percent of students to females’ 42 percent. Men got more than 85 percent of PhDs. In law schools, about 90 percent of students were men. 

Today, undergraduate enrollment has flipped—female enrollment is at 58 percent. Women are awarded 53 percent of PhDs, and they make up the majority of law students. Whole professions, like psychology and veterinary medicine, are becoming overwhelmingly female. Forty percent of American women now earn more than the average man, up from just 13 percent in 1979.

This rise of women has been accompanied by male decline. The statistics here are equally startling. There is the bad economic news: most American men earn less today (adjusted for inflation) than most men did in 1979. This is not because of the mass entry of women in the workplace, but because of the hollowing out of traditional male jobs—factory worker, steelworker, coal miner—as a result of free trade and automation. 

But male troubles are not just economic. Almost one in four school boys are diagnosed as having a “developmental disability.” One in five fathers is not living with his children. Men are at three times greater risk than women from the epidemic of “deaths of despair,” from suicide, alcohol, and drugs. 

There are now more young women than men with university degrees in every advanced economy. Male wage growth has been sluggish in these countries; and men’s employment rates have been dropping around the world. 

For the longest time—pretty much all of history—the cause of gender equality has been synonymous with the cause of girls and women. No longer. It is now necessary to consider gender inequalities in both directions.

For more, see: