Friday, October 21, 2016

No Belles, Hombres, and Equalism

David J. Thouless
F. Duncan M. Haldane
J. Michael Kosterlitz
Jean-Pierre Sauvage
Sir J. Fraser Stoddart
Bernard L. Feringa
Yoshinori Ohsumi
Juan Manuel Santos
Bob Dylan
Oliver Hart
Bengt Holmström
If you are like me, then reading "Bob Dylan" in that list of names is the clue that explains that they are the people tapped with the Nobel honors this year.  Well, except the last two on the list--theirs is a fake Nobel!

The listing of names reveals something, right?  No females honored with that stratospheric honor.  In fact, "it’s been 53 years since a woman won the Nobel Prize in physics."  Most of that is political--a process that keeps deserving women away.  My favorite in this context is Rosalind Franklin.  While controversy abounds, from what I can understand, I am convinced that sexist politics kept her out of the picture.

But, here's what we also find--males tend to be found in high percentages at the high achieving end, and they also seem to be overwhelmingly the gender in everything from mass shootings to drug-dealing to the population in prisons.  Of course, for even thinking about this, Larry Summers was kicked out of his job at Harvard; recall that brouhaha?

Most of us in our regular lives do not ever cross paths with the high achieving end nor the other extreme.  And, what I find in that vastness of regular life is this, and about which I have been thinking and blogging for the longest time: Men are in trouble.
Consider some startling statistics.
More than a fifth of American men — about 20 million people — between 20 and 65 had no paid work last year.
Seven million men between 25 and 55 are no longer even looking for work, twice as many black men as white.
There are 20 million men with felony records who are not in jail, with dim prospects of employment, and more of these are black men.
Half the men not in the labor force report they are in bad physical or mental health.
Men account for only 42 percent of college graduates, handicapping them in a job market that rewards higher levels of education.
Lawrence H. Summers, the former Treasury secretary and now a professor of economics at Harvard, estimates that a third of men between 25 and 54 without college educations could be out of work by midcentury.
Well-paying jobs that don’t demand a college degree have been shrinking for generations — and technology is accelerating that trend.
That report from the NY Times is filled with rich evidence, which is why:
Alan B. Krueger, a professor of economics at Princeton, recently conducted a study of working-age men. “I came away thinking our biggest social problem is men,” he said. 
Take your time to read through and digest all that.  A point there reinforces something that I have been talking about for a while--we need to seriously reconsider what it means to be a man in these rapidly changing times.
Succeeding in the new economy and culture may well require rethinking conventional ideas about masculinity.
I cannot understand how and why we as a society are not engaging in such important conversations and are, instead, wasting away our time and money on frivolity.


Anne in Salem said...

Yes, woe is men. Society may have a role to play in improving the situation for these men, but they need to take responsibility for themselves and their lives. Send any of them in Salem to me. We hire anyone willing to work.

Sriram Khé said...

You wrote something after "Send any of them in Salem to me." If you hadn't, then, oh my, what an opening for punchlines!!! ;)

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