Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


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Men, women still want you – but only if you are perfect!

Women only want Mr Perfect!

If you thought the chick-lit era was over, with no more searching for Mr Right a la Bridget Jones or Sex in the City; or that WAGS were now irrelevant –  then you were right, but oh so wrong! At least according to Amy Turner’s piece in the Sunday Times a while ago (which I just found in my draft box); “Mr So-So has no chance with the SAS girls”. That was 7 years ago; has anything changed?

Because it seems that then women still wanted to meet the man of their dreams – Civitas think tank found that 70% of women aged 20 – 35 want to get married – but only if they found Mr Right. In particular so-called SAS women: successful, attractive and single – say they are happy enjoying themselves.

As one SAS women, described as having “endless legs and sparkling repartee” (sycophant-speak for skinny public school girl) said; “I’m fabulous and I want someone equally as fabulous to join my party“. Not much narcissistic self-referencing there then and hardly suggesting an equal partnership (see “Princess on board…”).

Not for them Lori Gottlieb’s advice in; “Marry him: the case for settling for good enough”. As my management consultant colleagues might say, SAS women are taking a “six sigma” rather than just a “fit for purpose” approach and as one of my guest bloggers pointed out recently; “Male modesty doesn’t pay”.

But why should women settle for less now that they are increasingly holding the purse strings? Experts  in the USA think that by 2024 women will be earning more on average than men , particularly in Law, Medicine, and in academia.

There are already more females than males graduating and higher education is the best predictor of future financial success. And the trend is pretty much the same in the UK with more females than males graduating in Law and Psychology for example.

In America five years ago only 1 in 4  women in dual-income households earned more than the men; now it is up to a third and if that trend continues more women in middle-income jobs like teaching and healthcare will overtake men.

In America female graduates have flocked into cities such as New York and Dallas to find “gender-blind” jobs with the result that women in their 20s are now earning 20% more than their male counterparts.

A number of factors have influenced these trends: a sharp decline in the birth rate in cities where more women go to college, more men losing their jobs than women (women occupied more part-time jobs) in the recession (the “mancession“), and an increase in family-friendly – which usually means women-friendly – jobs.  And you could probably add to that the feminising of education.

So what do you think? Will women today settle for second best?

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Gloom for graduates – but especially if you are male

As if things aren’t bad enough for men in the marriage stakes, unless you are Mr Right, male graduates are suffering in the job market too.

Average reductions in graduate vacancies of 9% and 7% in consecutive years mask larger reductions of up to 45% in retail, IT, and telecommunications.

And the recession (or mancession) coupled with the cutbacks in graduate jobs over the last 2 years, mean that this year’s graduates are having to compete with those from 2008 and 2009 who have had the chance to get some work experience.

The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) says that for the first time the average graduate starting salary has been frozen at £25,000, there are an average of 70 applicants for every job and up to 200 for some jobs.

This year almost 4/5 of employers (up from 2/3 in 2009) – led by organisations such as Sainsbury’s, GSK, BAE Systems, and the Civil Service – are demanding 2.1 degrees as the minimum.

So male students who adopt a “just do enough” policy when it comes to studying may have to rethink their strategy.

Both the Sunday Times and The Observer (4 July 2010) reported on the fact that women are outstripping men in the job market. Men are also less likely to go to University in the first place and more likely to drop out early according to the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI).

The AGR says that many male UK graduates have; “a degree of complacency” and HEPI talks about; “the general hopelessness of young men”. Recruiters agree that women graduates seem more mature, focussed and better prepared for interviews and assessments. And my colleagues in careers guidance and coaching tell me the same.

While men are often more self-confident  – cocky even – they don’t necessarily have a lot of self-awareness and many don’t respond to feedback as positively as women do either. Not many men suffer from “imposter syndrome” like women yet male underachievement is an increasing phenomenon, and not just amongst undergraduates.

An affluent society and slacker lifestyles have been blamed but psychologists point out that typically men have a wider range of performance with extremes – either brilliant or lazy, whereas women’s performance tends to be more in the mid-range with the result that they are often more sensible and industrious.

The only good news amongst this for men is that those male graduates who can get jobs will be getting an an average of £2,000 more than female graduates.

So lads get a grip! Sort yourselves out or you’ll be left even further behind

Updated 14 July 2010: BBC News reported that Jaguar had 3,700 applications for 80 graduate jobs, and that JCB had doubled the number of graduate vacancies from 6 to 12!

Many students said that they were continuing with their education because they couldn’t get jobs. More debt?