There are signs of recovery from the Great Recession: more than 1 million jobs have been created across the country in the past 12 months.
However federal numbers, studied by the Pew Research Center, show that women are having a much harder time getting hired when compared to men: since the US economic recovery started in mid-2009, a whopping 97 percent of new jobs (all but 43,000 of 1.4 million positions created) have gone to men.
Men suffered harsher job losses during the recession, what was known as last year's catchy economic phrase, "mancession" 70 percent of the jobs cut during the recent economic downturn belonged to guys.
Indeed, the mancession was attributed to massive slashes in male-dominanted industries in the wake of the housing meltdown, including construction, finance, and manufacturing. But it was mostly because companies kept on lesser-paid women in an effort to cut back and keep their businesses afloat.
I even heard someone say at a bar, "I bet those Walmart women aren't complaining now." (He was referring to the Walmart v. Dukes class action suit where more than 1.5 million women who have worked at Walmart since 1998 came together because the company favored men over women in decisions about pay and promotion).
But now men are staging a huge, unfair comeback.
The Pew report shows that the trend toward hiring men over women is occurring across all industries, including many traditionally female professions such as nursing and teaching. Men also gained jobs at a faster rate than women in professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality. In other sectors, including retail, finance, and federal government, men gained jobs while women lost them, reported Rakesh Kochhar, a Pew senior researcher and a co-author of the jobs report.
In retail, for example, women lost 168,800 jobs between June 2009 and last June, while men gained 172,800 jobs.
In addition to men gaining most of the new jobs, women are also losing jobs at a faster rate. Since the recovery began, the overall unemployment rate for women has increased from 7.6 percent to 7.9 percent; the rate for men dropped from 9.9 percent to 8.0 percent.
After a long march into the labor force during the twentieth century, women's participation in the workplace is now at the lowest it's been since 1993. Just last month, more than 300,000 women dropped out of the workforce.
So what is the reason for the apparent gender bias in the recovery?
Kochlar noted that the decline is partly due to layoffs by local governments, which disproportionately employ women.
Teachers, also heavily female, have come under the budget ax, as much of the federal stimulus funds that have propped up struggling local education departments are winding down.
However, I think it's additionally important to recognize that the old-fashioned perceptions of men as breadwinners causes hiring managers to pick a man when they must choose between two equally qualified candidates.
Whatever the causes are, it is clear that women are not getting their fair share of jobs in the latest economic recovery. It's not just reigning men, it's a downpour. This needs to be challenged before more women get washed out of the work force.
Sarah T. Schwab is a Sunday OBSERVER contributor and Fredonia State graduate. Send comments to
or view her Web site at www.SarahTSchwab.com