Posts Tagged ‘Gender Roles’

Role Reversal

Friday, March 20th, 2009
Women Step Up

Women Step Up

In Prepare for the Worst, Plan for the Best: Disaster Preparedness and Recovery for Small Businesses (Wiley, second edition, 2008), I wrote that “I am going to make a politically incorrect statement. Be attentive to the emotional needs of the men in your life. I was impressed by the men in my life and how many of them suffered silently and perhaps put themselves at greater risk of illness and injury…..sometimes we forget the difficult burden of masculine conduct, so listen carefully and be particularly attentive to the men in your life who may have needs that they are too embarrassed to admit.”

The examples I supplied related to my personal experience of 9-11 as the owner of a small business in Lower Manhattan. Now we are facing an economic disaster, a day of reckoning for a quarter century or more of fiscal mismanagement and the financial consequences are even more ruinous. The cost of this has fallen dispropotionately on men. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 82% of the 2.5 million jobs lost in the U.S. since November were held by men. In an article published in USA Today, titled “Women Step Up as Men Lose Jobs”, a number of interesting family stories are presented with a common theme: the role reversal imposes some stress, but more so for men as for women as they navigate the unfamiliar.

We all become comfortable with our daily routines as we go on “auto-pilot”. It is more efficient. But any disaster disrupts our familiar routine and that alone imposes additional stress. One of the key lessons that I learned from my own disaster recovery experience is that if you can identify the stressors, you can better manage them. So here is another one of which to be aware.