Is This the End of Men or the Beginning of Women?

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Today, women are more than 50 percent of the workforce, and they're more than 50 percent of managers.
Corbis

THE GIST

- American women are now dominating careers that once went only to men and more women are graduating from U.S. colleges.

- Some experts argue that men are finished and women are taking over.

- Others say that male and female roles are simply shifting.

It wasn't so long ago that American women did all the child-rearing while men worked outside the home, and that was just the way things were. But times -- and the economy -- have changed.

These days, 57 percent of college students are women. Single and childless women are out-earning men in the same situation. And even though men continue to dominate the highest-paying jobs, women now hold their own in a wide variety of lucrative careers. They make up a third of physicians, 54 percent of accountants, 45 percent of law associates, and they have about a half of all banking and insurance jobs.

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Those statistics, many of which appeared in The Atlantic in Hanna Rosin's article the "The End of Men" have received a lot of attention -- not just because of their nod to the rise of women, but to the possibility that men are losing their dominance. But the trends also raised a number of provocative questions.

Are women, with their strong communication skills and social savviness, more equipped to thrive in our modern digital age? Are men becoming unnecessary? Or are we just working our way to a new normal, where men and women develop a different set of expectations for themselves and each other? And do we need to start looking for ways to help the groups of men that are struggling to keep up?

Tonight, Rosin and others will duke out those questions in an Intelligence Squared debate, which will air later on television and radio stations around the world.

Debaters will argue on one side or the other, but many experts say the issues are far from black and white.

"I don't see this as, 'Oh, men are finished and women are not,'" said Kay Hymowitz, a Manhattan Institute scholar and author of Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys. "This probably has to do with the mismatch between men and women right now. The change in women's status and the response from men has created all sorts of problems between the sexes that we haven't figured out how to negotiate yet."

Rosin, who is currently writing a book based on The Atlantic article, offered plenty of facts for thought in her original article. For the first time in history, she wrote, women took over the majority of jobs in the U.S. last year. For every two men that earn a B.A. degree from American colleges, she added, three women do. And women dominate 13 of the 15 job categories that are projected to grow the most in the next decade.

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