Women have more options than ever before. But men only have the same old options they've always had, according to Barbara Solomon, vice provost and dean of the graduate school at the University of Southern California.
Solomon was the keynote speaker at the University of Utah Women's Week Celebration Wednesday. She believes colleges and universities can take the lead in ensuring that for every change women make in society, men have the chance to make reciprocal changes."One doesn't have to follow a party line," Solomon said. And college career counselors have had some success convincing women not to follow the old party line, guiding them into law, math and engineering. "We've not had similiar success getting men into careers in elementary and secondary education," Solomon said.
Society's message seems to be that traditional male careers are high status, and traditionally female careers are low in status, she said.
Solomon holds a doctorate in social work and has done research in gerontology and welfare reform.
Too many people blame the ills of society - crime, drug abuse, teen pregnancy - on the fact that women are working outside the home. Solomon said she believes there are other corrupting factors, including the fact that men aren't taking over the roles that were once defined as "women's."
Not only can universities encourage male students to try non-traditional careers, she said, but universities can help society by helping employed mothers, too. Education is the key to changing expectations.
"It used to be that the primary roles for females were wife and mother and the primary role for males was breadwinner. The man was required to succeed as an employee in order to succeed as a husband and father.
"There will be more and more periods where men will be unemployed," Solomon predicted. If men could come to see the role of husband and father as a primary role, unrelated to the role of breadwinner, they would benefit and society would benefit, she believes.
Solomon concluded her speech by challenging educated women to "take some measure of responsibility for the well-being of society."