Thingish Things

Watching the Girls Go By

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Apr• 13•11

I like girls. Always have. But never more so than now.  And it’s got nothing to do with being a father of three of them or their ability to charm the socks off me. It’s their attitude, particularly their professional attitude.

Whatever vitamins were put in the water for girls in the 1980’s and 90’s has had its intended effect. Because the young women coming into the workforce today have got it going on. It’s impossible not to notice.

This is the time of year when old farts like me are asked by friends to meet with sons or daughters graduating from college and preparing to enter the workforce.  The young men are fine, but the young women I meet with, on balance, are clearly a step ahead. They are confident, organized, and alert. They are, as my father would say, crisp.  And those qualities are undiminished upon hiring. The best employees and co-workers I’ve worked with in the past decade have been young women, hands down. The boys will work ’til midnight to get the job done, but the girls will have had it done by 6 pm — the day before.

Maybe it’s always been that way. But I suspect not. Something tells me it has everything to do with the positive reinforcement girls of this generation were infused with growing up, all that girl-power stuff that made a lot of us cringe at the time.  Whatever it was, it worked.

Another thing I’ve noticed: There doesn’t seem to be any of the gender friction in these  women, the type so prevalent in the 70’s and 80’s.  I take that as the truest sense of professional arrival and assuredness. I know glass ceilings still remain, but no way they last. Not with this crop of talent emerging.

These are subjective and highly generalized observations, I know, but the evidence is out there to reinforce them.  Young women now attend college and graduate school in far higher numbers than men. Fifty-eight percent of all undergraduate degrees were awarded to females in 2004, and that trend grows stronger every year.  Seventy-four percent of female high school graduates are attending college today, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, but just 62.8 % of males. As a result, women are dominating or playing an equal role in fields like law and medicine that were the exclusive domain of men when I was a kid, which wasn’t really that long ago. The days of Archie Bunker asking for the “real doctor” seem more like three centuries ago than three decades.

The only advantage that men have over women today in the workplace, as I see it, is that our careers are not cut short by child-bearing. And many women who can afford to mercifully realize that children are so much more important and enriching than a job and stay home to raise them.   If it were not for that, we’d be finished, in more ways than one.

One wonders what long-term sociological effects all this will have — with birth rates, work schedules, life planning, etc. But in the short-term, it should put young men on notice.  Find some of those vitamins, take them, and step  up your game, lest you end up with only two career choices, chef or fashion designer.

Oh the irony.


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  1. Thanks, Mrs. M…O.

  2. Christopher Hellstrom says:

    Check out Hannah Rosen’s article in The Atlantic. It neglects some facts but on balance it shows that women are dominating in many areas.

  3. Billy says:

    Thanks, Chris. Will do.

  4. Challutz says:

    it is unbelievable, but so true.

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