By Robert Folsom
December 20, 2011
“Are Men Finished?” was the topic of NPR’s recent, 50-minute Intelligence Squared debate. If nothing else, the question itself implies that now is a better time than usual to be a woman.
But is that really true? And if so, isn’t the obvious next question, “Why?”
First let’s consider the “really true” question via this handful of more-than-anecdotes:
- The appointment of Virginia Rometty as CEO of IBM (effective Jan. 1, 2012). Her resume makes it clear that Rometty has earned the appointment, yet the fact remains that she will be the first female to reach the top spot at IBM. Rometty’s ascendance is part of a developing and literally larger story: Women are poised to occupy a record number of CEO positions among Fortune 500 companies in 2012 (New York Times).
- ABC “aggressively promoting” the January 2012 launch of its prime-time series, Work It, about two men who cross-dress to land jobs. If that storyline isn’t commentary enough, the series will air in the time slot that formerly belonged to Man Up, a show about three immature guys who aspired to grow up and “find their manhood.” Man Up’s ratings were so poor that ABC ditched it with several episodes shot, produced and unaired.
- Europe’s debt crisis, part of the daily news for months. One woman has been at the forefront of managing the mess: Angela Merkel. She is Germany’s first female Chancellor, and recently was voted the “most influential woman in the world.” Merkel contrasts her male fellow European heads-of-state, who variously have been portrayed as ineffective, unserious and inadequate to their tasks. Forbes reports that Merkel’s approval ratings in France exceed those of the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.
- Resurgent interest in former (and only female) British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. She became a bull market figure in the 1980s, though the deep pessimism of the 1970s had helped her win office in 1979. An op-ed piece earlier this month in The New York Times pined for Thatcher, calling her “…a tough, adversarial leader. She was never liked, even by those who supported her policies, and she was hated by those who opposed her. Yet her political style may be just what Britain needs right now.” New Year’s Eve weekend will see the release of The Iron Lady, a big-screen biography of Thatcher: The lead role went to Hollywood’s most accomplished living actress, Meryl Streep.
So are men finished? Well, “finished” is a loaded word. A more nuanced description is that in a period of negative social mood, the public looks favorably on women as non-traditional leaders. The April 2007 Elliott Wave Theorist explained:
Women benefit from the general call for change that attends bear market periods. Since men are traditionally both the source and the symbols of power during booms, their authority is frequently stripped in the creative destruction that inevitably follows. In their place can arise non-traditional candidates, a group which has historically included women.
As social mood continues to decline — and the economy and markets grow more dire — be on the lookout for examples of what Annie Lennox called, “Sisters doin’ it…themselves.”
There’s a lot more to say about how socionomics can help you make sense of what’s driving the tends in politics, culture, finance and beyond. Put the method to work for yourself: Begin by following the link to our recent article, “To Apply Socionomics Properly, Follow These Principles.”