What's A Man To Do? Part I

Men must adapt and evolve, or we will quickly but inevitably, become less and less relevant.
My personal walk and journey regarding gender equity began when I finally realized my form of "male scripting" was often causing frustration and pain (intentionally and unintentionally) with the women in my life.  Even though I was considered respectful, nice, friendly, open, and seemingly able to get along with everyone, the other dimensions of my male behavior were having mostly unrecognized and unintended negative consequences with women and other men.  This included my overly competitive nature, narrow focus, being uncomfortable with emotion, insecure about always having the correct answer, a strong desire to be accepted by peers, an unwillingness to be reflective, and often blind compliance to authority figures and institutions.  These traits usually created difficulty for others, especially the women, around me.
The world and business environment of today is unlike any other time.  Nanotechnology, jet-speed transportation, 24/7 instantaneous communication, global markets, inter-connected economies, and a relentless demographic shift in our current and future workforce, customer base, community, regulatory and legislative bodies have all combined to make planet Earth a very small place spinning in a very large universe.  We now live in what I will call a “compact life space.”
Our "compact life space" is magnified by all the human diversity differences, cultures, religions, and economies, mixing together in ways no one could have imagined a century ago.  It's my belief the cause and effect of this churning riptide of change will have a lasting impact on our children, our children's children, and generations beyond.
The scope and force of change has created quite a dilemma.  That is, either we come to fully understand what "inclusion" means individually and collectively, develop competencies to make mixes and complexities work better together, not perceive our efforts as zero-sum and the pie getting smaller, or we eventually sink.
One specific wave within this cross-current of turbulence is the exponential expansion of influence women have in the U.S. workforce, customer base, community, and economy.  Using the research that Catalyst has conducted over the past fifty years regarding the progress and gaps of women in the workplace, I want to highlight several key trends that seem important for men to internalize:
• Women represent 48% of the total labor force, and by 2015 will outnumber men.
• 40% of working wives out-earn their husbands.
• Women will be the majority of primary breadwinners within the next generation.
• Women businesses employ 35% more people than all the Fortune 500 companies.
• Women owned-businesses represent 40% (9.5 million) of all U.S. businesses.
• Fortune 500 board seats held by women is 16.1%.
• Fortune 500 corporate officer positions held by women is 15.7%.
• Executive officer positions held by women is 14.1%.
• Management and professional positions held by women is 51.4%.
• Women represent 30% of practicing physicians, 20% of dentist, and 40% of lawyers.
• Beginning in 2006, women outnumbered men in college by over 2 million.
• Women are earning better grades and more advanced degrees than men.
• By 2019, 59% of Bachelor, 62% of Masters, and 55% of PH.D's will be women.
• In 1966, 61% of all college degrees were awarded to men.
• In 2018, 61% of all college degrees will be awarded to women.
• Women represent at least 50% of students in medical, dentistry, and law schools.
• By 2015, 75% of all entrants into the labor force will be women and people of color.
Note:  Data from Catalyst, Department of Labor, Census Bureau, National Center for Educational Statistics and CollegeTimes. All percentages and years listed are approximates. The trends do not reflect what African American and Latina women are experiencing in educational and job levels today, which is significantly lower than the data presented.
Even though we have likely seen this data in snippets before, step back and grasp the accumulative effect of all the different fragments.  For me, the reasonable conclusion is that men must adapt and evolve, or we will quickly but inevitably, become less and less relevant.
Despite meaningful progress, women still significantly lag behind men with respect to pay, income, executive, and board positions.  As women continue to outperform men in the areas identified, aggressively close the gap in the fields of engineering and science, and as more and more women get proficient at exerting their existing power and influence to create more change, is it possible that we have already reached a gender tipping point and just haven't realized it yet?
In other words, given the increasing representation level of women in the workforce, on college campuses, along with their expanding consumer purchasing power, business and entrepreneurial reach, and financial investment control, is the current perception that organizational power and control belong to men becoming a vestige?  Is the current modus operandi (often re-enforced unintentionally by D&I efforts) that a woman's advancement hinges on the graciousness and benevolence of male leaders also at a point of slow decline? If you say "not now," then at what future point will the existing institutional dynamics between men and women completely turn?  The demographic shifts and forming tsunami will not recede.  It's only a matter of time. It's not "if," but "when."
Given this clear forecast of inevitability, what's a man to do?  Do we blindly and stubbornly swim into the fast current and fight it?  Or should we swim with the current, but learn how to swim using different strokes?
I am not implying that men become emasculated or victims.  Not at all.  It seems, however, that the natural qualities and strengths that are associated with men worked well when organizations were hierarchical, decisions and communication were exclusively top-down, there was an overabundance of workers, marketplaces were somewhat isolated, and outcomes were still relatively predictable.
This description is definitely not today's business reality.  The business world is operating as one entity. It is chaotic with fast flowing information, technology, empowered consumers, and inter-connected economies.  Business survival now requires a high premium on group collaboration, partnerships, innovation, and decision making being pushed down into decentralized organizations.  Rather than overabundance, we now have a growing shortage of workers with the necessary skills to compete in a global market and economy.  Finally, the U.S. worker's level of engagement is at an all time low.  Concurrently, mistrust in management is at an all time high.
These are serious leadership challenges to overcome, especially when we consider the fact that the complexities of doing business, fierce competition, and the significance and consequence of “inter-connectedness,” have created a dynamic where outcomes are now largely unpredictable.
Next month in the July MARC, part 2 of this Blog Post will explore the empirical evidence supporting the conclusion that female leadership traits and style become the competitive edge of the future.  Additionally, we will identify the number one barrier preventing men from not only accepting responsibility for inclusion but also modeling and being the change we want to see in the workplace and beyond. See you then.
In the meantime, one question for MARC readers…what do you think the number one barrier is?
Posted by Frank McCloskey on Jun 20, 2012 11:03 AM America/New_York

Blog Post Comments

Log in to post a comment.

Please bear a bit with my venting; I make an effort to be constructive, but this blog seems like yet another

effort by women to trash men. Specifically, the mistatement of facts is chronic:

Why does Lang refer to her organization's goal as that of "lifting", when her (stated) goal is that of lifting women?

There are women demographics that earn significantly above males in the same demographic :


Moreover, there are many areas where men are faring worse than women: the majority of college degrees are currently earned by women;men are jailed disproportionately; the family court is seriously biased towards women (and NOW wants to restrict fathers' visitation rights, to top it all). Now women want to limit men's reproductive rights, claiming parents should have no say over a child when the woman is pregnant--the glaring hypocrisy.

Moreover, recently there is the equal pay claim that women are paid less for doing the exact same work as men, for which I have not seen any support . Moreover, data shows men tend to take the more dangerous jobs:


I would like to see some_ data studies_ showing that women are indeed paid less for the "exact same work" . My requests for these have never been answered.

Lang's claim (next-to-last paragraph of the main page ) in here interest in lifting all groups " these three leaders are driven....talents fully" is contradicted by her efforts devoted exclusively to the advancement of women, not by men, even in areas where woman are faring significantly-better than males. At least depict yourself honestly; you are interested in the well-being of women alone, and not in opportunity for "everyone".

I invite your counters; specifically actual studies and data; not studies based on self-reporting. I am tired of professional victim women groups demonizing males, I have never seen any offer of any serious factual support claims (feel free to prove me wrong here). I invite any data-based studies to this effect, proving me wrong.

For the sake of context, I do come from a left-of-center positionl I believe in the rights to vote, work, etc.

But I don't believe in made-up movements like the hard feminist, who cherry-pick facts ; put these facts out of context , to make themselves out to be victims. Patriarchy? I don't see it: 99.99% of history, 99.99% of people have lived in a condition of serfdom by a very small group-- if not slavery-- and not in a state of oppression by males.

Please do explain the great privilege of males. I think that, while well-intentioned, you are being suckered.

A test, to make my claims specific :

is there any mention of father's rights, and the female bias in the family court system?
Of the fact that men are imprisoned at a rate of 8-to-1 ?

Of the fact that, while women are earning 60%+ of college degrees, and the gap keeps increasing, women
groups keep pushing for more college scholarships for women?

Of the fact that men die on the job 13x as often as female workers? Doesn't this justify the pay gap?

I need to see all of these questions seriously-addressed before believing in this alleged male privilege.
  • Posted Mon 25 Jun 2012 06:34 AM EDT
My apologies if I came off too aggressively in my above post.

Maybe this will clarify my position:

While there are indeed areas where society favors males, there are many other areas where females have fared, and still do, better than males --please read my above post for details.

While I believe your thesis on the importance of Males evolving as the world changes is indeed important, I have some issues with the way you go about this. Specifically, you seem to be engaging in unilateral disarmament: you admit to your flaws and privileges as a male . nothing wrong with that per se. Still, you seem to ignore the many areas where women are at an advantage. Why do you do this? This blog seems to be based on the premise that men have an accross-the-board advantage over women, when this is clearly not true ( plase see my above post for details).

I'm sorry, but if we are to address the issue head-on, we must deal with actual facts, and not the women's movement version of them.

I invite your thoughts.

  • Posted Mon 25 Jun 2012 06:47 AM EDT

Anon Anon,

No need to apologize for venting or coming across too aggressively. I appreciate the effort and time on your part to express yourself. I do hope your perspectives will generate responses from both men and women on the MARC site. Additionally, since MARC is a community of professionals, please log-in next time using your name. There is no retribution for dissenting points of view.

Before I respond specifically to several of the points raised in your comments, I would like to generally describe where I am coming from with my insights.

To begin, the perspectives I offer are based on personal expereinces, beliefs, and my individual growth as a systemically advantaged white male, who is also heterosexual, Christian, temporarily able-bodied, educated, and of upper socioeconomic status. My perspectives have been greatly influenced from being married to a successful career professional for 35+ years, and partnering with Debbie to help raise our two talented and successful daughters. I have had my eyes widely opened from listening to and deeply understanding their personal experiences (much different than mine) and perspective throughout life.

In addition to meaningful personal growth, I have also been deeply influenced by my professional life. This includes not only 28 years in the operational and customer service side of the business, but also as the vice president of diversity for 10 years at a highly successful and nationally recognized company. For 38 years, I have been impacted by the voices and experiences of those who have not always felt valued, respected, and productive. These voices crossed all human diversity dimensions (yes, including white men), as well as all levels of leadership and management.

As a result, my insights are not positioned to blindly support any organization or perceived movement or cause. I am speaking my truth. In that, I am not interested in male bashing or laying down guilt or blame, just because we are men. I consider those useless motives and emotions that undermine honesty, making real change associated with equity and fairness, and not directly confronting the unintended and unrecognized impact of male priviledge. I have a belief that men have a responsibility and obligation to not and look over the discrimination taking place before our eyes, only because we don't perceive that we are affcted by it (also true for race, sexual orientation, religious differences etc.). Looking over gender discrimination becomes an elevated form of male priviledge...to selectively engage or remove ourselves from issues of inequity and unfairness.

In the past, when topics of "priviledge" and discrimination came up, I frequently became defensive. It was hard for me to honestly acknowledge any criticism of my multiple forms of priviledge. What kept me engaged and wanting to learn more however, were not only my discussions at home, but other conversations (not always easy) with friends and professional colleagues across many dimensions of human diversity. Through personal growth and reflection, I have finally concluded that I cannot change anything in the past, that I am not going to be frozen by denial, guilt, or being defensive about my identity, and to accept responsibility and ownership of all my forms of priviledge. That means making an intentional commitment to use my privilege to make a positive change in the world, in whatever way I could. I don't necessarily have to fix the bigger challenge of systemic discrimination (in any form), but I didn't have the prerogative of stepping safely away from injustice either.

Now to specifically respond to a few of the discussion points you raised.

1. You have interpreted my perspectives as "unilateral disarmament." I am not entirely sure what you mean by this, but I am in no way advocating that men become weak, without power, or emasculated. That outcome is not a worthy one to consider. What I do advocate is for men to be individually and organizationaly strong and powerful, but achieve it without putting women down. I believe it is going to take a very strong man to adapt and evolve leadership skills that we have been rewarded for in the past, but definately will not work in a future world that is becomingly more and differently complex. Leadership by command and control, top down decision making and communication, are fast becoming artifacts. In an ever evolving global business enviornment, decentalized group decision making, communication, teamwork, partnering, and collaborative leadership competencies are the ones which will ensure future organizational sustainability and shareholder success. Guess what? These are leadership attributes that women consistently demonstrate more often than men. The point I am making is that the gender demographic shifts underway are unrelenting. This "business case" provides men accountability and motive to evolve our leadership competencies or we becomes less effective. In my opinion, the biggest barrier for us to overcome is the denial of our male priviledge and seeing this demographic shift as a zero sum endeavor.

2. I completely understand your need for additional data to prove the existence of a pay gap between men and women. It's obvious from your comments that you know how to gather and analyze statisical data. Unless you really want to seek out a different point of view and move from a current stance, than there is nothing anyone can provide you as empirical evidence to overcome your closely held belief that men are now victims. Data comes in second place. Now, if you honestly want to learn and challenge your assumptions, there are countless independent studies performed by private businesses, universities, medical research and professional organizations, and foundations, as examples, for your study and internaliztion. If asked, I would highly recommend for anyone to complement research with the development of trusting relationships with those "others" that we have all been scripted by life to fear. From personal experience, it's amazing how many of my biases and unrecognized fears where eventually removed through personal relationships. Really. If you do decide to take this route, I am sure you won't be surprised to learn the pay and employment gaps we are discussing are occurring on a global basis. That type of statistical finding should mean something. Finally, take time to delve into all the other independent organizations and studies that peel back and expose the scope of violence perpetrated on women on a global basis. Factor into your review, the various forms of female (children, adolescent, and adults) gender violence (rape, prostitution and human trafficiking, genital mutilation, voting rights, unpaid labor, child labor, education, reproductive rights, as examples), and try and calculate the health consequences for women, the impact on children, and any reasonable ripple affect on social and economic costs. I feel reasonably confident that you will conclude the cause and effect is significant. You might even label your findings as incomprehensiveable.

3. Your use of logic and data to arrive at a conclusion that we no longer live in a society where men control corporate interests, politics, religion, economy, as examples, is denial. In the process, you do exactly what you say "women" organizations do...cherry pick and present data out of context. For instance, you alledge women have somehow discriminated against men because women are out performing men academically. The inferrence is women couldn't possibly do this unless they were given some type of advantage. What about the likely possibility that women are just working harder and appying themselves at a higher level than men? Yes, it's a real concern that men (especially Black and Hispanic men) are falling educationally behind. However, the academic success for women is one based on performance and merit. Another example is your statement that men are being imprisoned at a much higher rate than women. Well, given that a high percentage of violent crimes (robbery, rape, murder as examples) are perpetrated by men, there should be a direct correlation.

It seems you are using statistics, logic and conclusions that men are now being systemically discriminated against, as a method to advocate for male superiority and dominance.
  • Posted Mon 25 Jun 2012 09:22 PM EDT
The Number one barrier : I am sure this changes every situation, asking this question sitting in Delhi, the answer is the BIG question ONLY women are faced with, to choose between FAMILY or CAREER. This is pretty much the situation at the moment , due to lack of support systems in place which would take care of the child when both parents are at work.

I think as long as this barrier remains, it would be hard to attain gender equality in leadership positions.

We have just started an initiative called ' India women in Leadership ' http://womenleadership.in/ , and just last week i did a round of interviews with our candidates who have been chosen for the program. One common factor among all these women was complete support of their families. So there surely exists a methodology of being a leader and having a successful career. Though I think there needs to be major amendments in gender policies at workplace.
  • Posted Tue 26 Jun 2012 03:34 AM EDT
Mr McCloskey:

With all due respect, I am not sure that your experience is representative of that of all, or even most males today. I am in my 30's still finishing my grad-schooling; I come from a secular home/perspective. I do not detect any special privilege I have as a white male. Actually, I was fired from my teaching job, allegedly because of budget cuts, yet new female adjuncts were simultaneously hired. Not enough mone to pay me, but enough to hire several new female substitutes. Yes, this is not by itself statistically-significant, but, it is my experience. Moreover, throughout preschool and highschool I was seriously reprimended by my female teachers by being "too fidgety"; teaching styles are designed to suit the female style over the male methods of exploring. I'm trying to be open-minded towards your claim of systemic privilege; please try to be open minded towards my claim that there is no such thing; that, while men do have advantages, there is no systemic accross-the-board advantages granted to males over females in our society ( I can only speak for the U.S.)

Re my claim of unilateral disarmament, my point is that , while I am willing to lower my guard and admit that there are indeed areas where men are favored over women, I believe that the reverse is also the case, i.e., that there are areas where women are favored over men. But the reverse is never mentioned. There is no mention --at least that I am aware of -- of areas where women are at an advantage over men. I believe that when injustices favoring each of the sides are not brought up , the debate becomes a slanted one of exploitation of women by men. For the sake of context, I do believe that violence against women should stop, that women should have the same rights, etc.

Re disarmament: by this I mean that if men are willing to lower our guard and admit of advantages we have, women should do the same:
Specifically: why is it never displayed that there are many demographics where women outearn men? Why isn't it brought up that the family court system greatly and unfairly favors women over men? Moreover, would a patriarchal system:

(please let me know if you want support for any of these claims.)

1)Imprison 8x more males than females. If men wanted to oppress women, they would criminalize more of the female behavior and/or give longer sentencing for such crimes. None of this is done for females. Sadly, this is what is done with Black people in this country -- here is a sad case.

2) Assign most of the dangerous jobs to males? Males die on the job at a rate 13x that of women

3)Deprive males of their reproductive rights (when a female has the option of aborting or giving birth without consulting
the (potential) father. ). Don't you believe a potential father has feelings for a possible child to be born? Moreover, the father is expected to bear the costs of raising a child (approx $235 K from birth-to-18 in this day. ), but yet the father has no say on whether the child is born or not? Is this fair to your view?

4)Send men to fight in the front. How many women have died fighting for the country? Is this done to privilege men? No, it is done to protect women. Stupid, unnecessary, condescending? yes, a form/method of domination? I don't think so.

5)Popular depictions of men: Haven't you seen depictions of men in TV and in the general media as buffoons, idiots? I mean, men are _literally_ called idiots, depicted as buffoons?

5b) Popular depicitions of men: When crises occur throughout the world, commentators refer to the _number of women and children who died or were hurt_ . No mention of men who died. Moreover, maybe you should listen to the language used by some feminists about males. :


Here is a very careless use of the word rape, a legal term. An case is determined a rape or not _by the courts_, after the case has been tried. Guilty until proven innocent.

_Literal_ demonizing of men: please look at the picture used in this article:


2) My point re the fact that females are obtaining more degrees than men:

My point here is that a great stink is raised whenever women are even suspected to be at a disadvantage ; campaigns are lauched, laws are passed, etc. to remedy the (alleged) disadvantage. Yet, where is the outrage in cases where men are suffering and at a disadvantage? Where is the outrage at the fact that females are getting more degrees than men? ( Independently of the causes). Where are the laws/campaigns to remedy the fact that around 80% of prisoners are men?

3)Please believe my claim that I do not buy the unequal pay claim. There is data to support the fact that men --at least until recently-- have been willing to give up much more of their lives for their jobs than women. This is not a good thing, as men suffer emotionally as a result of this. Men are also more likely to be given the more dangerous jobs, and take more risks on the job. Shouldn't this be rewarded? If you believe I am cherry-picking, I will gladly look at studies you submit purporting to show that women are not paid the same as men for the same job.
  • Posted Tue 26 Jun 2012 05:02 PM EDT
Well, at the end of the day, your claim that my belief that there is no systematic advantage for men over women, is a circular one: no matter what I say, you will reply that I am in denial. If we do not find a way out of this infinite loop, we will not be able to make any progress in our exchange. Moreover, I have the impression you are putting too much trust in self-reporting; personal impressions do matter, but they must be tested against data.

I do not argue for male dominance. I argue for a debate based on a realistic view of the situation; a view showing that there is no accross-the-boad advantage to men over women, nor the opposite. I want to avoid a debate/conversation based on this view.

To emphasize: while women are earning 60%+ of the degrees, they are still pushing for more female-only scolarships. While certain women demographics outearn men, women are not lobbying to increase the pay for males in said demographic. When a difference in pay is noticed, unfairness is automatically concluded, laws are passed, or, at best, hundreds of studies are lauched to understand the caused. When a difference in jailing is noticed, no studies are made to determine possible underlying causes of the difference; possible social factors that may be leading men to commit such violence.
  • Posted Tue 26 Jun 2012 05:20 PM EDT
Anon Anon,

Thank you for sharing a couple of your personal life stories that obviously have not been easy ones to experience. Those kind of events that cause hurt and rejection, and if they happen often enough, eventually put up walls of caution and mistrust that become our protection. I know I have my walls.

As a result of your sharing, I now have a better sense of why men's right's is such an important cause for you. You clearly are passionate about it. My only caution is to please be extra sensitive and not allow your passion to crossover a line and you unintentionally end up attacking women. I know that is not your intent, so please accept my caution in the caring spirit it is offered.

I agree with your "circular" analogy that because we both have strong beliefs about our particular points of view, any discussion to convince and win over the other person becomes nonproductive. With that acknowledgement, and given that a significant part of my article does focus on how to evolve organizational leadership/management competencies in a global and demographically changing world and workplace, I have a couple of questions for you and the other MARC readers to consider.

1. What specific management and leadership competencies must be developed in order to build trust, credibility and performance with this ever changing demographic makeup of the workforce?

2. What type of management and leadership accountabilities must be put into place, so as to clearly separate the divisiveness and negative rhetoric of difficult societal and public square issues from compromising organizational value statements of respect, inclusion, and workforce representation?
  • Posted Tue 26 Jun 2012 07:59 PM EDT
Anon Anon,<br>
I think your comments point to the paradoxes inherent in systems of inequality. It is entirely possible for men to be privileged as group—economically, politically and socially—yet still suffer some costs because of it. In the same way, it is possible and also true that women are disadvantaged as a group—economically, politically and socially—yet derive what some might consider relative "benefits" from that position. <br>
The positions/roles ascribed to men in our society may at times come with risk, but they have also given men a disproportionate share of economic and political power. The gender roles ascribed to women (such as care-giving) have locked us out of the positions of power in society but have allowed many women to play active roles in their children’s lives–roles that more and more men want to and should play. We justify the senseless gender division of labor with some of the stereotypes you mention for example, which portray men as inept parents; or portray women as inept leaders. Inequality robs us all.<br>
I’m a mother of a young boy and I worry about his future and about the achievement gap between boys and girls that you mention. My interest in creating a more gender equitable world does not come from a place of wanting to diminish men. I sincerely believe that equality is good for women and men. <br>
I regret that you see the “women’s movement” as a movement against men; and that you seem to see women as enemies rather than allies. My son is big part of why I believe in MARC and the community we are building here. I believe that equality will allow men and women to live richer lives at home and at work. <br>
  • Posted Wed 27 Jun 2012 07:23 AM EDT


Do you know a man who has taken more than 10 days of paternity leave?

Not sure

Mention Colleagues

Simply type “@” followed by the user’s name. After three letters, possible matches will appear. Select the desired username from the dropdown to @Mention them!

Questions? Visit our @Mentions tutorial for more.