The good news: Women are making gains in the workplace, in careers, and in education (although the gains are still not enough!).  But here’s the bad news:  Boys and young men face problems that are leading to what my colleague, Phil Zimbardo, calls “The Demise of Guys.”  What’s happening?

Many boys and young men are on a path that will have negative effects on their future careers and their lives.  Here are the warning signs, and some ways to remedy the decline.

  1. Fewer Men Seek College Degrees.  Women are now the majority in colleges— reversing a centuries-old trend.  Terrific news for women, but it means that more and more men will be shut out of high-paying, and more rewarding careers.
  2. Men’s Ambition is on the Decline.  Global research suggests a near-world wide trend, with girls showing more ambition than boys in the U.S. and all countries surveyed, except Germany, Japan, and France.  Moreover, Pew research found that only 59% of men felt that a high-paying career was an important goal, compared to 66% of women.
  3. Boys Spend Too Much Time Online.  Boys and men are spending larger amounts of time involved in on-line gaming and watching porn, as Zimbardo notes [See his Ted Talk here], and, presumably, less time on schoolwork and productive activities.
  4. Problems in Emotional and Social Skills.  Our own research on emotional communication and social skills shows some surprising positive news: Interpersonal skills are not declining, but women’s communication skills are improving more rapidly than are men’s.  This has implications for men’s success in careers and in romantic relationships.

What is the impact of these trends?  First, there can be a reduction in work performance and productivity due to lack of education and ambition.  Second, if men are shut out of the workforce, there is potential for them turning to criminal activities to get ahead.  Miscommunication leads to weaker family relationships, and being outpaced by women can lead to a misogynistic backlash against women.  The result is lower quality of life for males.

How can this be remedied?

  • First, there needs to be parental (and self) regulation of time-wasting on-line activities.  Promote youth social interaction through attractive sport, hobby, and social activities that have young people interact face-to-face. 
  • Mentoring programs pairing college students and successful adults with adolescents to increase their motivation to succeed academically and in careers.
  • Programs designed to increase social and interpersonal skills—and attention to the development of good social behavior in schools (e.g., reducing bullying and aggression, teaching proper conflict management, etc.).

By focusing on the problem, and providing programs to help our young men, we can prevent the Demise of Guys.

Reference

The Demise of Guys (DoGs): The Problem and Possible Solutions-Coming to the Rescue of Young DoGs • Convenor: Bernardo J. Carducci • Presenters: Bernardo J. Carducci, Shari Young Kuchenbecker, Ronald E. Riggio, Philip G.Zimbardo.  Presented at 14th European Congress of Psychology, July 2016, Milan, Italy

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