And whatever “Work It!” suggests to the contrary, women still don’t outnumber men in the workplace. They currently account for 49.4 percent of the payrolled workforce, up from approximately 45 percent before the recession hit, and these numbers only account for the salaried, civilian, and non-farm working population. This means that if farm workers, members of the military, and those who are self-employed—all three of which Jeffrey Hayes, a senior research associate at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), characterizes as male-dominated fields—were brought into the equation, the percentage of women in the workforce would almost definitely be lower.
Moreover, if the recession was harder on men, statistics show that women have fared far worse during our prolonged recovery. A Pew Research study found that while men gained 786,000 jobs between June 2009 and May 2011, women lost 218,000. And in contrast to the Great Recession, when both men and women lost jobs in absolute terms, the study noted that this recovery period “is the first since 1970 in which women have lost jobs even as men have gained them.” Of the 1.6 million jobs added to payrolls between November 2010 and November 2011, the IWPR estimates that 30 percent were filled by women while 70 percent were filled by men. “Everyone was throwing around the term ‘mancesssion,’ but ‘he-covery’ never really caught on,” Hayes says.
The research community, meanwhile, is “scratching [its] collective head,” says Hayes, as to the reason behind men gaining jobs at a higher rate than women even in categories like business services, which is rarely viewed as dominated by any one gender. “We don’t have the data to prove this, but it’s almost as if we have gone back to the model that if a job has opened up, it should go to a man who has a family to support,” Hayes says. “Man suffered, and thus we should repay him.”