The Great Sex Divide in Unemployment and Retraining

by Michael Haberman on January 15, 2010 · 0 comments


The current unemployment situation, 10% or more of the population being unemployed, has made apparent a divide between genders. The Department of Labor for Georgia reports that 58% of the people collecting unemployment are men. Part of the reason for this is that much of the job loss has occurred in manufacturing and construction where typically you will have a higher proportion of men. These are jobs which have become obsolete, so we may never see employment numbers again to reemploy all these men. People who have been in these positions need to be trained.

And that is where the great sex divide becomes apparent. According to Michael Thurmond, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Labor, men only make up 37% of the people in the labor department’s training programs, only 37% of the students in the technical college programs and only 43% of the student populations at the two year and four year college and universities in the state. I think I would be safe in extrapolating those number to the nation as a whole.

So why do we have this great divide in the sexes? Here is my take:

  • Men view themselves as being more self-reliant. “Cowboy” mentality. We don’t need to ask for directions, we don’t need to read directions, and we don’t need to go to the doctor. Therefore, why should I need any help in finding a job.
  • Women generally have a greater “support” group system in their lifes and as a result are more accepting of receiving help and are more likely to seek it out.
  • Men tend to be more stubborn, or “pig-headed” if you will. I think men are more subject to the “inertia” of doing nothing. Hard to get back to doing something once you have been doing nothing.

I don’t have numbers on this, but I believe age is a big factor in this divide as well. I think “older” men may have a harder time. Older men have had more of their identities wrapped up in their work and have a harder time letting go of that. Working women have been multi-taskers probably the majority of their careers. Their ego is less tied up in what the career field is and thus accept training more easily.

Well I could play amateur psychologist for awhile, but I would rather ask you. Why is there such a divide between the sexes in unemployment and retraining?

Note: Inspiration for this post came from Henry Ungar’s blog in the AJC entitled Wanted: Ideas to create more jobs in Georgia

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