23 July 2018
Programmer or software engineer is probably the only job that relies heavily on men’s logical and mathematical skills. Photo: Bloomberg
Programmer or software engineer is probably the only job that relies heavily on men’s logical and mathematical skills. Photo: Bloomberg

Men no longer have advantage in job market

The financial sector is struggling.

Hong Kong lender Bank of East Asia said it would cut 180 jobs in the city.

Generally speaking, men are more affected by the economic downturn, since their advantages in logical thinking and math are more likely to be replaced with machines and computers.

By contrast, women tend to have better communication skills, language fluency and a higher emotional quotient (EQ).

These qualities are making women more valuable in the job market.

For example, women used to account for 60 percent of non-executive employees at Hang Seng Bank, while men dominated the managerial roles.

However, women outstripped men in executive roles late last year, and the number of women in managerial roles at the bank jumped 20 percent to 856, more than the 843 male managers.

A similar situation can be found in various walks of life.

The unemployment rates of men and women were basically the same in the late 1980s.

The rate for men began to pull away in the 1990s, and the gap has kept widening.

In April, when the city’s overall jobless rate was around 3.4 percent, 3.8 percent of male Hongkongers were jobless, compared with just 3 percent of their female counterparts.

It seems that men are having a tougher time than women finding jobs as the economy evolves.

It’s actually not that surprising.

Scientific studies show that men tend to predominantly use the left side of their brains — the logical/rational side – in performing tasks.

Women, on the other hand, use both sides of their brains and have better communication skills, emotional intelligence anc so on.

Today, computers can perform many logical and mathematical tasks.

Jobs like management, sales, marketing, public relations and customer service, however, require communication skills and a high EQ, where women have advantages over men.

Interestingly, the traditional thinking that “man are breadwinners; women are homemakers” still exists in Hong Kong and much of the rest of the world today.

Women usually face a tough choice between family and career after becoming mothers.

They also face far more pressure than men if they decide to pursue their careers after having children.

Despite these negative factors, women have managed to outperform men in the job market, which demonstrates their adaptability to the modern economy.

Nevertheless, there is still one job that relies heavily on men’s logical and mathematical skills.

That job is programmer/software engineer.

The founders and core team members of internet giants including Google Inc., Facebook Inc., Tencent Holdings Ltd. (00700.HK) and Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. are all men.

But Hong Kong lags far behind the United States or even mainland China in developing an internet industry.

As a result, men are becoming less competitive in the city’s service-dominated economy.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 10.

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

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