American society keeps evolving. Life gradually becomes transformed. But amid the daily bustle, few notice profound changes while they happen.
For example, U.S. women steadily are gaining economic power and independence -- and some analysts predict they eventually will outstrip men as family breadwinners.
The Richer Sex and The End of Men are two new books on this sociological shift. Both contain statistics showing the steady rise of women in the workplace.
Women now earn most U.S. college degrees, positioning them to hold more good-paying middle-class careers. The snowballing Information Age keeps eliminating male-dominated blue-collar jobs while boosting knowledge-based work that can be performed by women as easily as by men.
A World Bank commentary said:
"In the United States, for every two men who will get a bachelor's degree this year, three women will graduate. In 1950, one-in-20 men in their prime were not working; today it's one-in-five. A young black man has roughly an equal chance of ending up in prison or college. In almost all countries, young men are two to three times more likely to commit suicide than women.... The recent economic slow-down has been disproportionately hard on men around the world, and of the 15 job categories expected to grow fastest in the future, women mainly staff 13."
The End of Men describes America's change:
"Since, 2000, the manufacturing economy has lost almost 6 million jobs.... During the same period, meanwhile, health and education have added about the same number of jobs. But those sectors continue to be heavily dominated by women, while men concentrate themselves more than ever in industries -- construction, transportation and utilities -- that are fading."
For older Americans, it's boggling to envision a possible future in which women hold economic power and men are more dependent. This defies the male-dominant pattern that has ruled every culture since history began. A new report last week said U.S. women now even hold more driver's licenses than men, 105.7 million to 104.3 million.
We don't know how macho men will adapt to the changing reality. Will they lose self-respect, or willingly become helpmates? Keep watching the U.S. scene and try to fathom where America is heading.