Shell Games on the ´Job Route´

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Women and Work: The Token Woman Proposal

In a new book, Shell Games: Corporate America´s Agenda for Academia, C. Boutwell analyses the job market til 2015 and the picture´s not pretty. Amplifying other recent analyses, namely The End of Work and The Jobless Future, the book was published by the education fraternity´s publisher, Phi Delta Kappa, and was very intriguing.

In essence, the corporations with their quest for competitive games will be creating primarily only low level jobs, frequently re-engineering existing staff and locations, at exactly the time academia is churning out graduates in ever greater numbers. The bottom line for us is that the value of a college degree as a ticket to a secure economic future in the corporate world, as well as in academia, is vanishing.
This time the problem affects not just one segment of the market as it did in the 70s when the big push, after Sputnik, for math/science graduates came abruptly to an end, leaving not only students in the academic pipeline stranded but many new graduates as well. There were aerospace engineers driving taxis in Seattle and mathematicians working checkout in department stores at minimum wage, pictures in Newsweek. Just the year before the ratio of jobs to PhDs at the math convention had been 7 to 1. There was major psychological distress as the academic world back then, with reduced resources to build bigger empires, told us to be creative!

This time it´s more fundamental, more systemic and comes at a time when our social services have been gutted, our corporate workloads have been swollen while our real takehome pay has dwindled except for the emerging upper tier in our economy. So I want to raise the question of whether we should encourage young women to devote their lives, their energy and time, to an objective that is becoming worth so much less than advertised but is consuming so much of their possible investment resources.
In the next 15 years, what´s the best strategy and the best preparation to pursue?
To me, the obvious solution is for us to learn to create our own work, not prep ourselves for *jobs*. The opportunities for meaningful work are there. Important tasks, as well as specialized needs, go unaddressed in our society. These opportunities just are not lucrative enough to support our megalithic corporate world. We´ve even seen signs that home-based workers and self-employed groups fare better than the employed. Their average incomes are higher than employees and their survival rate is significantly better than other business start-ups.

Our primary interest, academically, logically, would be in ensuring sufficient access to information resources to create our own work, an ongoing process. We would want more flexibility than a degree program and the freedom to continue pursuing our own best interests as time goes on, in spite of the potential for turmoil. Visualize a ´cherry-picking´ advanced education.

We would need economic paradigms to target our spending, to improve our ´launch´ potential, to make best use of the investment capital we would have freed up by taking control of our education. Management skills, and probably a kind of sabbatical in which to readjust our mindset from employee mode to self-directed independence.
Shell Games: Corporate America´s Agenda for Academia with all its statistics doesn´t paint a very attractive picture of the job market for upcoming graduates especially. For young women with children those pressures to cope with hyped competitive crises are particularly destructive. The ability to create your own work would be a valuable, maybe even a vital, survival skill.

If women opted to pursue self-employment at this point in time, -- and those who are currently students, with the support of those of us in the older generation, are in a particularly good position for doing this -- it´s my contention that women would be collectively and individually better off. Let´s discuss implementation. Building our futures with hopeful idealism, considered expertise, grassroots excitement, and connections, to overcome the malaise we now find ourselves wandering through. What we do, what we hope for, what we dare to imagine must not be cynical for we are creating our futures.


LastStraw Revolution

Opening the discussion...

To begin,

I just don´t see a downside for women in attempting this alternative objective and I´d be fascinated to see ideas on implementation, monitoring, the whole gamut. At least with the TW proposal we´re suggesting that young women choose what looks to be in their best interests.

I really think we have to try this. Anyway that´s MHO and TW is my contribution.

Send responses, questions, anecdotes, suggestions to the editors. We will gather and post them here in a future edition. Addresses below.

Then let's get to the good news, what this new life is like, and who's already there.


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