The Buzz

Hilary Rosen and The Big Flip

Credit the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus for dismissing the teapot tempest over Hilary Rosen’s silly comment about Ann Romney never having worked a day in her life—as “irrelevant to the presidential election.” But give her demerits for then dredging up all the same tired, persistent “women’s issues” that so consume writers of her stripe. She wants to press Romney, for example, on the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which reversed a 2007 Supreme Court decision that made it harder for women to bring lawsuits about pay discrimination. What’s the point? That act became law three years ago.

She wants Romney to speak up on the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, which established domestic violence and stalking as federal crimes (no sense of any legitimate issue over just how much federal involvement is prudent in such local and family matters). What about flexible work hours? What about availability of contraceptives?

Marcus is certainly entitled to her views, however predictable and pedestrian. But consider what’s going on between the sexes in the workplace—and in academic life. The Atlantic asked recently, “What if the modern postindustrial economy is simply more congenial to women?” It also reported that the pool of those considered “traditionally ‘marriagable’ men”—educated and affluent—is “radically shrinking.” All this is manifesting itself in what writer Liza Mundy has called “The Big Flip”—meaning women are emerging as the dominant sex professionally.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says women now hold 51 percent of jobs in “management, professional and related occupations.” In 1979 women earned 62 percent of men’s earnings; now they earn 81.2 percent, and the gap is narrowing every year. Women today are getting 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees and make up 60 percent of graduate students.

Extrapolate these statistics and trends out twenty years and contemplate the consequence. The Big Flip is going to transform American society in a host of ways, some positive and some negative. In any event, the implications of this looming societal revolution is going to make Marcus’s petty complaints look just about as frivolous and flawed as Hilary Rosen’s dig at Ann Romney.