business news in context, analysis with attitude

Back before the holidays, we had a bit of a controversy here on MNB.

There was this Washington Post report that “a new analysis of government data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals a surprising disparity” when it comes to job loss and creation in the retail sector - “the retail industry, which shed the most jobs last year (54,300), seemed to push women out while offering more opportunities to men … Between October 2016 and October 2017, women who worked in the country’s stores lost 160,300 jobs, while 106,000 men found new work in the field.”

One analysis of the numbers suggested that this actually could be a good thing: “Women now outpace men in college enrollment … so they might be leaving some retail jobs to pursue more lucrative options.”

I commented:

Women in general are smarter than men and better than men, so it makes sense that they’ll evolve into career paths that will serve them better than men. I’ll buy that.

Some folks took exception to this, and criticized me for being annoying and leftist, and said that I should be “disgusted” with myself; another said that I was being sexist.

I responded, in part:

One of the things that I hear college professors say is that they find that the women who attend their schools tend to be way ahead of the guys in terms of motivation and work ethic. Not every woman, and not every man. But in general. (Note that I said “in general” in my original commentary.)

Indeed, I talk to a lot of folks who believe that women tend to work harder and smarter, in pat because they have had to in order to succeed and advance in their careers. It is the old Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers metaphor … Rogers actually had to be a better dancer than Astaire, because she had to do everything he did, except that she had to do it backwards and in heels.

Women who succeed, in many cases, have to be better simply because they are women. Recent stories about sexual harassment in a variety of industries have illustrated just how much crap so many of them (some studies put it at more than half the female workforce in this country) have to put up with in their careers.

MNB reader Dan Beard chimed in:

It’s pretty simple,  if you have a disadvantage you have to work harder, be it a woman, disabled person or a person foreign to something, those folks that put their time in and work hard will eventually do better.

I always try to keep in mind at all times the old line about how “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”

From another reader:

Don’t let the haters wear you down…….any self-respecting man who also respects women would agree with your statement that women are smarter than men.   I’m of the opinion that women are tougher than men as well.   I know I could never deliver a baby.

As if you needed proof - when my wife enrolled in pharmacy school in 1987, women made up less than a third of her class.   This year, the class admitted to the University of Iowa’s College of Pharmacy was almost 2/3 women and women have been in the majority of class admissions for over a decade.

And, we got an email from MNB reader Ashleigh Kellogg, who took note not just of this story but of one about Alyza Bohbot, the second generation leader of a Minnesota-based coffee company called Alakef Coffee Roasters, which created a sister company, City Girl Coffee, which gets its beans exclusively from farms and cooperatives that are owned or managed by women and then donates five percent of all profit to organizations that support women in the industry.

KC, I've been reading your blog for seven years, since I started working for a regional, midwest grocery chain. Two of today's stories for which you provided commentary I forwarded to my mom and sister, neither of whom are retailers but both of whom love a good girl-power story. This is what is so great about your site, that you not only provide relevant insight into the retail landscape, but also into the world.

Thanks. Your marching orders give me something to aim for every day.
KC's View: