Thursday, February 8, 2007

Unmarried Women Will Set the Pace

According to the New York Times (1/16/07), unmarried women fifteen and older outnumber those who are married for the first time in US history by a 51% to 49% margin. This "tipping point" is particularly prominent in a number of key groups. Forty two per cent of those 15-25 year olds were married in 1950, while only 16% are now. Among 25-34 year olds, married women have declined from 82% in 1950 to 58%. Tony Soprano once told his daughter, Mello, that "it may be a new century outside this house, but it's still the 1950s inside here." She's not listening.

As with a multiplicity of structural trends, there are many dynamic implications of the emerging dominance of single women:

1. Many workplace benefit packages and tax policies are based on the assumption of family formation and male power. These are going to be under tremendous pressure to change. Women in the workforce are going to demand that the value they create for organizations be funneled into non-traditional vessels.

2. Women already play a tremendous role in community politics and that influence is going to become greater and greater. Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, etc. are examples of very influential married women. Think Barbara Mikulski. We're going to see alot more single heterosexual women influencing community policies and communities politics in the direction of their own interests rather than in the direction of families. What is this going to mean for urban night life? What will it mean for the definition of safe streets? What will it mean for the behavior of men? We don't know, but we'd sure like to know what y ou think.

3. What will happen to advertising? A recent Kleenex presents a strong woman. She's got a career. She's confident. She's in a relationship. And, you know what, she says, "Sometimes I cry." Suddenly, by legitimating crying by women in a non-dramatic context, the Kleenex brand displayed its awareness of a huge market. Single working women are going to stop trying to act like men. In fact, we're probably going to get a lot more crying by men in public. Increasingly, women are establishing the norms for male sexuality and behavior. Instead of professional women acting like men, professional men may start acting a lot more like women.

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