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J.J. Colagrande Headshot

Can Women Save the Economy?

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Let's admit it. We live in a woman's world.

Forget about women-not-having-it-all, glass ceilings, affirmative action, the Lilly Ledbetter Act, the War on Women, We Can Do It images and antiquated gender roles: the matriarchy (thank goodness) has arrived and it's impossible to ignore or resist. This is not a matriarchy of female domination where women are cruel to men; on the contrary, it's a gradual shift in our society where females can occupy even more of a central role in the moral, political and economic fabric of our times. Of course the woman's liberation movement didn't happen overnight, but dawn broke two generations ago and now the midday sun of the movement is shining bright. Look at the facts: more women vote than men, the last two Supreme Court justices were women; just last week it was announced that there are more Fortune 500 women CEOs (20) than ever; and about 17 percent of Congressional members are now women. Granted, these numbers are not balanced -- 50-50 is definitely more of an equilibrium -- but these numbers inevitably will level out.

And these are just the top of the ladder positions; there are many other rungs.

There are more women engineers, doctors, lawyers, consultants, scientists, therapists, analysts, managers, dentists, architects, etc., than ever before. And these numbers too will only increase.

In my professional life, women occupy almost every position of authority. As a teacher at two schools, the Chair of both departments is a woman; as well as the Dean of one school. As a freelance writer, for American Express, the Miami New Times, and a blogger for the Huffington Post, all my editors are women. As a creative writer looking for blurbs for a new novel, I thought about who the best writers were in Miami under forty to approach and I came up with two names, both women.

To further illustrate, one must consider education. As a professor who teaches 20 sections of rhetoric and composition per academic year, without fail, whether at a private, community or public university, every single semester there are more women in my classroom than men.

And these women are faring better than the men academically. Female students (in general) are more focused, hard-working and attentive, while the men (again in general) seem slightly more absent-minded, juvenile and often look for a short-cut or a deal out of a tough jam.

A recent CBS report was right: men are out-of-step in this day and age.

Fast-forward 10 years and there will be a job market even further flooded with able, willing and competitive women ready-to-work. Granted some will raise families, but will these women forgo costly educations and advanced degrees for the emotional necessities of raising a family?

Or will they do both? This is the question coming-of-age-women have needed to think about since seeking equality. Anne Marie Slaughter, in her highly lauded article for The Atlantic, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All," explores this very issue with a razor-edged emphasis on balancing one's personal and professional lives. But the question isn't, "Can women have it all?"

The question is, "Will there be any "all" left to have?"

The irony of the women's liberation movement, as well as the Civil Rights movement, is that as a society we have rightfully and justly caught up with the morals of an evolved species, but at the same time a perfect storm of factors have created a troubling and unique atmosphere.

Due to equal rights movements, there are more people in the work force than ever; because of the inevitable rise of the machine, technology has eliminated many jobs in traditional sectors like manufacturing; and the very nature of capitalism, in all its celebrated glory, bows [rightfully] to the mighty dollar and will always look for cheaper labor, thus the ridiculous rise of outsourcing.

In other words, everyone's earned the right to work, but there are no jobs.

Politicians don't have an answer, so they point fingers. Corporations and special interest groups are only concerned with their bottom lines. Social wedge issues do a great job of distracting the populace. Meanwhile, no one is focused on the massive 21st century systematic change that is needed. That's why we need women to step up and set our society straight. Rather than focusing energy on the personal dynamics of balancing a family and work, which is important, it's even more important to keep pushing the social agenda of gender equality through the creation of jobs.

Women have come too far in too short of a time to sputter. Ask your grandmother about opportunity -- feminists born of an earlier generation may have the perspective of time and experience to look back upon. But one thing is for sure in this new milieu: women will have more men standing by their sides. Anything less would be considered outright misogyny or bigotry.

My basic thesis is that the values women displayed in breaking free from gender subjugation are the same values we need as a society to break free from our political and economic gridlock.

Here's the bottom line: the work ethic, ingenuity, perseverance, intuition, organization and discipline women displayed in coming as far as they have in so short of a time is the exact recipe we need for a broad and systematic change; for the transference from an old world to a new.

The final irony is it may not need to be only women, but merely their mindset.