Tag Archives: hanna rosin

A miracle of wrong: Hanna Rosin error reborn in Mark Regnerus book

I’ve been working on my review of Mark Regnerus’s new book, Cheap Sex, in 10-minute power bursts. Here’s one funny thing I noticed: Hanna Rosin’s most prominent error from The End of Men apparently repeated telephone-style by Regnerus.*

In the Atlantic article, which led to her TED Talk and then book (full review), The End of Men, Hanna Rosin’s editor chose two dramatic statements that were wrong to lead with:


That year, 2010, women were not the majority of the workforce, and most managers were not women. And they still aren’t. What was true was that for 10 months women outnumbered men in what the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports as the “nonfarm payroll,” from June 2009 to March 2010. In every month before and since, men have been the majority. Here’s that trend, by month:


The nonfarm payroll number is:

a measure of the number of U.S. workers in the economy that excludes proprietors, private household employees, unpaid volunteers, farm employees, and the unincorporated self-employed. This measure accounts for approximately 80 percent of the workers who contribute to Gross Domestic Product.

It’s not “the workforce,” but it is a good indicator of shocks to the economy — private companies may lay people off immediately, while self-employed people still consider themselves employed even if they’re suddenly losing money.  Anyway, in the BLS’s household survey that asks people if they are working, the Current Population Survey, there were about 10 million more people counted as employed, and men’s majority have never been threatened. This is a reasonably called “the workforce.” Note the time trend here is longer, and it’s annual:


The source of the wrong statement about managers is just Rosin combining managerial and professional specialty jobs into “managers,” which she also did in the TED Talk, which is just wrong. Professionals include a lot of women, like nurses and teachers. The managerial occupations have never been majority-female either. Both are important, but only one fit her narrative.

Anyway, the point of this is that Mark Regnerus picked up this meme — which Rosin popularized but lots of other media repeated — and stated it as current fact in his 2017 book. So powerful (among those not powerfully applying themselves) is the idea of automatic gender progress in one direction, that this is not the kind of thing they think they will ever have to check again. Once women pass a milestone, it’s passed, period. (That’s why Rosin’s full sentence was this: “Earlier this year, for the first time in American history, the balance of the workforce tipped toward women, who now hold a majority of the nation’s jobs.” She was misapplying the clickbait concept of “tipping point” to imply that the change will now continue and accelerate in the same direction.)

This is why Regnerus apparently felt no need to recheck his facts when he wrote, “there are now more women than men in the paid labor force.” He didn’t cite Rosin (or anyone) for this fact, but it appears during a passage sandwiched between parts that cite her book, so I assume that’s what he was borrowing from, and maybe just changed “workforce” to “paid labor force” to sound different or sophisticated.

Anyway, Rosin doesn’t feature prominently in the Regnerus review (you’re welcome), but this was an interesting nugget, because for all their differences, there are some similarities between Regnerus’s fanatical religious anti-feminism and Rosin’s sophisticated postfeminist antifeminism. Both think feminism has gone too far, and both see the rise of women as resulting from a technological change — Rosin from deindustrialization and Regnerus from the Pill. Also, they both use facts not to learn from but to demonstrate things they think they already know.

* To read the whole Regnerus story, follow his tag on the blog, or check out the whole story told in one chapter of my new book, Enduring Bonds: Inequality, Marriage, Parenting, and Everything Else That Makes Families Great and Terrible.


Filed under In the news

Correct that error, Hanna Rosin edition

I don’t know the norms of trade book publishing. When they do a paperback version, do they correct errors that were in the hardback?


Her extremely wrong description of Congress as one-third female after the 2012 election reminded me: As Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men comes out in paperback, careful readers might like to know if a few specific, unambiguous factual errors have been corrected (with sources linked for true facts).

  • “Women are now lead TV anchors, Ivy League College heads, bank presidents, corporate CEOs, movie directors, scatologically savvy comedians, presidential candidates – all unthinkable even twenty years ago” (p. 198). All wrong.
  • “A recent British study showed the women were three times more likely to be arrested for domestic violence, and far more likely to use a weapon” (p. 183) Yes, the study showed women were more likely to be arrested — among people who committed crimes, which women commit less! (read).
  • “Auburn (Alabama) has become the region’s one economic powerhouse by turning itself into a town dominated by women” (p. 106). Auburn is not dominated by women in any demonstrable way.
  • “Rates [of sexual assault] are so low in parts of the country — for white women especially — that criminologists can’t plot the numbers on a chart” (p. 19). Beside the fact that even tiny numbers can be plotted on a chart, U.S. sexual assault rates, which are declining, are not even low by rich-country standards.
  • “In Asia, as women gain more economic power and retreat further from the culture’s long-standing ideal of a perfect wife, the average age of marriage for women is thirty-two” (p. 6). This is completely wrong (for “Asia” overall, and for every major country in Asia, as Mara Hvistendahl explained).
  • “The recent rise in plastic surgeries is fueled by men — especially middle-aged men — who have been lining up for face-lifts, Botox, and liposuction” (p. 30). This is wrong in every possible way. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, which tracks these thingscosmetic surgery (except Botox and its equivalents, which actually is not surgery) is becoming less, not more, common; both men and women had a 6% rise in facelifts from 2000 to 2012; both men and women got fewer liposuctions in 2000 than 2011 (-56% for men, -41% for women) men get a small percentage of actual cosmetic surgery (13%) and an even smaller percentage of Botox (6%); the rate of increase in Botox procedures from 2000 to 2012 is lower for men (314%) than for women (729%); and the decrease in overall actual surgeries is greater over that time for men (-48%) than for women (-11%). Whew, that’s a big ball of wrong.
  • “Nearly a third of Brazilian women now make more money than their husbands” (p. 151). The number, according to her source, is 28% (their “more than a quarter” is Rosin’s “almost a third”), and it applies only to “highly-qualified Brazilian women working full-time.”

Why do I care about these minute details, instead of focusing on the major problem, her false assertion that the “middle class … is slowly turning into a matriarchy” (p. 5), a “matriarchy laying down roots” (p. 160) as women outnumber men in college. What bugs me about the constant factual errors is Rosin’s approach: She uses facts and numbers to prove what she has already decided is true, rather than using them to learn what is true. (I don’t find any errors in the book that run against her thesis.) This problem is not unique to her by any means — I see it all the time among undergraduate students and other polemicists who dig for facts backwards from their conclusions. The commonness of the problem is a good reason to belabor it, which I have done in the blog post series, but I’ve also written on the larger issues, including in this review and this longer article.


Filed under In the news

Is the end of men to reality what one-third is to 18 percent?

UPDATE: On Sept. 12, Slate published this correction: “This article originally stated that women hold one-third of U.S. congressional seats. Women actually hold 18.3 percent of congressional seats.” And they cut the stuff about how that means women getting elected is “normalized.” We’ll see what the book version of the epilogue says.

Hanna Rosin’s book The End of Men is coming out in paperback, and she’s including a new epilogue, now excerpted on Slate.

For glass-half-empty feminists — like me — eager to obsess over data minutia, and jump on her every mistake, she is very obliging:

The 2012 elections inspired a similar reactionary response in some quarters. A record number of women were elected to Congress, bringing their number to a third of the membership, the level many sociologists cite as a tipping point when a minority becomes normalized and starts to enter the mainstream. In other words, it’s no longer big news when a woman gets elected; it’s the expected.


Actual number of women in Congress: 18.3%. I don’t know any sociologists who think that is a “tipping point when a minority becomes normalized.”

I only noticed two other errors in the piece: calling Stephanie Coontz a “sociologist” (a compliment for any historian), and claiming she (Rosin) “sat through… an academic conference dedicated largely to rebutting the claims I had made” (she left halfway through, for which I don’t blame her).

For a full cataloging of Rosin errors and distortions (at least the ones I found), follow my Hanna Rosin tag. I also wrote an article version, “The End of Men Is Not True,” in the Boston University Law Review, which has the whole symposium online here.


Filed under In the news

OK, how about the gender gap, within occupations, for people working 50+ hours?

I haven’t had time to write something substantial on this, but I took the time to make this figure so I may as well post it.

Hanna Rosin wrote a blog post in Slate called “The Gender Gap Lie,” boldly proclaiming, “I feel the need to set the record straight,” before summarizing a June 2012 PolitiFact piece on the Obama 2012 ad which said: “President Obama knows that Women being paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men isn’t just unfair, it hurts families.”

It turns out, not surprisingly, there are many pieces debunking the misleading use of the gender wage gap statistic, like this one by Kay Hymowitz and this one by Ruth David Konigsberg, with the absurdly offensive sub-head: “Women don’t make 77 cents to a man’s dollar. They make more like 93 cents, as long as they don’t major in art history.” Newsflash: most employed women didn’t major in anything because they didn’t go to college (67% don’t have college degrees!), which also speaks to Rosin’s favorite “apples-to-apples comparison,” the study about University of Chicago MBAs.

Just to be clear: the 77 cents on the dollar statistic (and its variations) is based on all people working full time. It is not a measure of pay discrimination “for the same work.” It is a measure of gender inequality. The correct, non-lie way to describe this fact is modeled by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research: “in 2011, female full-time workers made only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.” Calling that lie is a lie. Not all inequality is discrimination, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem.

Occupations are one thing, that is, why “women” insist on majoring in art history before choosing careers as hotel maids instead of CEOs. Another is hours at work, always an issue in wage-gap debunkery. Men work more hours, on average, so they should get paid more, says the anti-lie crowd.

Fair enough, by the rules of our game. To help inform on that issue, I made this figure. It shows the occupations with the most people usually working 50 hours per week or more among those who worked 50 weeks or more in the previous year.

50-plus-hours-occs-earnsSource: My calculations from the 2011 American Community Survey, extracted from IPUMS.

The pink and blue bars show the median annual earnings of workers who put in an average of 50+ hours per week last year, and worked 50 weeks or more. The dots show women’s median as percentage of men’s. You can see that in two occupations — non-retail sales supervisors and human resource workers — women actually earn more than men on average. In some the gender gap is quite large. For example, among doctors working 50+ hours per week, women only earn 54% of men’s median earnings (so the gap doesn’t just result from surgeons working longer hours than pediatricians, I guess). Also, note that the 50-hour crowd are not all in high-status professional jobs where high earnings drive career choices — those women home health aides are making $11 per hour.

Overall, in these 25 occupations, the earnings gap for people working 50+ hours 50+ weeks is 83%. So, the Twitter version: Within occupations, among those working extra-long hours, women earn 83% of what men earn.

Even though these aren’t side-by-side wage gaps (e.g., two janitors working the same shift at the same workplace, with the same performance evaluations and work experience), you could justifiably call this “the same work” if you acknowledge there are different career tracks and working conditions contributing to this gap. That is, surgeons and pediatricians have the same degrees even if they have different specialty training and skills; they are doing varieties of the same work. You could also dispute that, or clarify it (likewise, among truck drivers, people operating different equipment have different skills).


Filed under In the news

End of Men conference video online

Now online, streaming video of all sessions from the conference at Boston University School of Law titled, “Evaluating Claims about “the End of Men”: Legal and Other Perspectives.”

The full lineup of sessions is listed here.

My presentation, which summarizes my writing on Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men through the first week of October, is at this link, and this screen grab shows where the slider is at the start of my talk:

Unfortunately the slides are hard to make out, but most of the figures I used are on the blog here under the Hanna Rosin tag.

Finally, some version of all this will appear in an edition of the BU Law Review in May 2013.


Filed under Uncategorized

The Fempire can’t handle the truth?

Liza Mundy has a post up at The Atlantic about the academic feminist establishment — which she has “begun to think of as the Fempire” — that can’t handle the truth. I appreciate her perspective, and her description of us as “on the same team.” We want gender equality. So that’s all good.

After mentioning Stephanie Coontz, Nancy Folbre and me (a list I cherish), she writes about us:

Why look only at the half-empty part of the picture? Part of this, of course, is a real concern for women’s struggles. But you could also argue that there is an institutionalized mindset that sets in when you become an institution. A certain investment in your historical argument. Certain currently popular theories—that the gender revolution has stalled; that marriage squeezes women out of the workforce—have a hard time embracing situations where there is no stall, and where married women have a strong incentive to work. … You could also argue that in the months prior to the recent election, the Fempire wanted to keep women’s issues in the headlines so that people would vote for, you know, the right guy.

It’s a shame I have to suffer this criticism, even as I still get grief from other feminists for exposing the “women own 1% of world property” meme as a myth. If the Internet had a longer attention span maybe I’d only have to be tarred with one of these brushes at a time.

Anyway, since she comes close to impugning my motives — which is fine and reasonable, of course — I feel permitted to offer just make a little dig in return.

In the post, Mundy writes, about her book: “I argued that female breadwinning could someday become the norm.” Wait a minute, could someday? In the book, on p. 6, it is: “women will become the top earners in households. … that Big Flip is just around the corner.” I should mention (she doesn’t) that the subtitle of the book is, “How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love and Family.”

I hate to impose cynical motivations on Mundy, or on Hanna Rosin, who has also distanced herself from the title of her book, saying, “The End of Men seems to be a provocative title. It’s the one that was given to my Atlantic piece not by me but by my editor…” But it is almost as if one can walk back the the title and overreaching claims after the book is on the market, and not worry because they don’t have to be “true” for the book to be good.


Filed under Me @ work

Women’s Economic Dominance: Is It Really Inevitable?

Originally published at TheAtlantic.com.

Both Liza Mundy (The Richer Sex) and Hanna Rosin (The End of Men) argue that the transition to a postindustrial, service- and knowledge-based economy—in conjunction with declining gender discrimination—are leading inevitably to women’s economic dominance. I have critiqued those stories in a series of posts on my site Family Inequality.

But there is one piece of Mundy and Rosin’s argument I haven’t questioned until now. It is so intuitively appealing that I assumed it was true: The demands of the economy are shifting dramatically in women’s favor. Brains have superseded brawn and social skills have become increasingly important, they both claim (and I accepted without thinking much about it) which all favors women over men.

Mundy and Rosin make frequent references to a set of projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), showing that the occupations with the largest expected growth are dominated by women rather than men. But that description is, it turns out, misleading.

Occupations Projected

First, here is how Mundy and Rosin use the BLS numbers. Mundy writes:

Projections made by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that women’s occupations will be favored in the next decade. … All in all, of the ten jobs with the largest projected job growth—nurses, home health aides, customer service reps, food preparation and serving workers, home care aides, retail sales, office clerks, accountants and auditors, nursing units, and postsecondary teachers—nine are majority female.

Rosin uses similar statistics, which have been repeated in reviews like this one in the Chicago Tribune, this one in the Globe and Mail, and blogs like this one at the World Bank. She writes (in a passage approvingly quoted by David Brooks):

The recession merely revealed—and accelerated—a profound economic shift that has been going on for at least 30 years, and in some respects even longer…. Of the fifteen job categories projected to grow the most in the United States over the next decade, twelve are occupied primarily by women.

Okay, here’s the first moment I should have paused. Women are almost half the labor force. So if occupations are “majority female” or “dominated” by women, how different are they from average? Does this really mean the occupational structure really strongly shifting in women’s favor?

The BLS projections are detailed here. They include hundreds of occupations, but they also summarize this pattern for 22 “major occupation groups,” which range in size from 1 million to 23 million workers. I added in the gender composition of each group to show the relationship between gender composition and projected growth.


As you can see, the female-dominated occupations are projected to grow fastest. For dramatic effect, one might point to the top-right point: healthcare support occupations are 87 percent female and projected to grow 35 percent over the decade. On the other hand there are production occupations: 26 percent female and aiming for a paltry four percent growth. But that would be cherry-picking examples. What the sophisticated reader really wants to know is the overall relationship between gender and job growth. And that is not what it appears.

Here is the same graph, but with the occupation groups shown in proportion to thethe number of workers they represent, and the trendline redrawn to reflect their disparate weights.


Now the picture is much different. That giant dot on the lower right is 23 million office and administrative support workers – 72 percent female and growing slowly. And near the middle are three large occupation groups that are 40 to 50 percent female, also growing slowly (sales, food preparation and serving, and management). The gender action is all in the occupations that employ a smaller number of people. The big story about growth and gender composition of major occupation groups is not true. (In technical terms, the slope of that line in the first figure is reduced by half when we account for the size of the dots. And in fact the slope would be cut in half again if we just dropped the healthcare support occupations point, which exerts outsized influence as an outlier.)

So how do Mundy and Rosin come up with the dramatic lists of occupations projected to grow the most? The top 10 growing occupations (at the detailed level) are mostly female-dominated. But those occupations made up just 15 percent of the workforce in 2010, and are projected to make up only 17 percent by 2020. The top 15 are projected to increase from 22 percent to just 23 percent of the workforce. The growth in these jobs just doesn’t represent that much of a change for the entire economy.

If occupations aren’t really shifting in women’s directions anymore, we shouldn’t be surprised. In 2001, analyzing occupational trends of the 20th century, David Cotter, Joan Hermsen and Reeve Vanneman concluded:

Change in the occupational structure is not responsible for the continued growth in women’s labor force participation after 1970. That is, it is not the growth of traditionally female occupations that is driving the continuing growth in women’s labor force participation rates in the 1970s and 1980s.

Rather, it was – and still is – the growth of integrated middle-class occupations, and women moving into new occupations, that provide the impetus for women’s increased labor force share. Hard as it is to believe, the overall shift toward traditionally female-typed occupations largely ended by the 1970s. Yes, there are more nurses and home health aides today than there were then, but there are also fewer maids and domestic servants. And although blue-collar manufacturing jobs have continued to decline, truck-driving and construction have not. (I extended their trend through 2010 to check whether this is still true. Women’s share of the labor force would have increased from 38 percent in 1970 only to 41 percent in 2010 based on occupational shifts alone, if the gender composition of each occupation hadn’t changed. That means about 70 percent of the increase in women’s share of the labor force came from occupations becoming more integrated instead of occupations growing and shrinking.)

In other places in her book, Rosin presses the ongoing structural change in the economy in terms of industries (what firms make) instead of occupations (what workers do). Here she is on slightly firmer ground. She writes:

Since 2000, the manufacturing economy has lost almost 6 million jobs… During the same period, meanwhile, health and education have added about the same number of jobs. But those sectors continue to be heavily dominated by women, while the men concentrate themselves more than ever in industries—construction, transportation, and utilities—that are fading away.

In one respect here, Rosin is exaggerating: She is referring to 4.5 million as “about the same number” as 5.7 million. And construction, transportation, and utilities, rather than “fading away,” in fact are togetherprojected to produce 2.7 million new jobs from 2010 to 2020, a 26 percent increase.

But she nevertheless makes a true and important point: Those masculinist industries are growing slower than education and health services, which are projected to add 6.5 jobs, a 33 percent increase. During the next decade, BLS projects education and health will grow from 15 percent to 17 percent of the workforce. But outside of that group, there is no relationship between gender and projected growth. Here is the chart:


The blue line shows the relationship with education and health services included—big dots out on the edges have a huge influence on the trend. If you exclude that you get the pink line. Manufacturing is shrinking, but it’s already only nine percent of workers, and shrinking to eight percent by 2020. Most of the employment growth is in the integrated industries: retail trade, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and government—which affect men’s and women’s employment. Health and education growth are a big part of our expected future, but they’re not the whole economy.


Overall, you might be surprised to learn—I know I was—that women are projected to increase their share of the labor force from 46.7 percent in 2010 only to 47.0 percent in 2020. That’s it: less than one percent. How can that be? So many people are so attached to this narrative of women’s rapid advance that they haven’t noticed there has been no advance in the last 17 years: Women have occupied between 46 percent and 47 percent of the labor force every year between 1994 and 2011.


This stagnation itself complicates a big part of Rosin’s and Mundy’s narratives. The continuous—and fast—pace of change is why they argue that we are heading not just toward equality but beyond it, to female domination. As Rosin writes:

Yes, the United States and many other countries still have a gender wage gap. Yes, women still do most of the childcare. And yes, the upper reaches of power are still dominated by men. But given the sheer velocity of the economic and other forces at work, these circumstances are much more likely the last artifacts of a vanishing age rather than a permanent figuration.

And, after several paragraphs of statistics comparing the present mostly to the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Mundy concludes: “Given these trends, it is only a matter of time before a majority of working wives outearn their husbands.”

But the reality is that it is not only a matter of time. The ostensibly gender-neutral processes of economic transformation are not the source of women’s progress they once were. And that’s the real danger in their stories: creating the impression that women’s progress is inevitable and unstoppable.


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