Women's Gains Improve Lives of Everybody

By Jane Glenn Haas


Maddy Dychtwald has influence.

I mean, she and her husband, Ken, are co-founders of Age Wave, a pioneer
consulting firm on boomers and their impact on everything from postage stamps to
caregiving. She's a sought-after speaker, author of three books, and she's a
demographer.

More important, she's a woman. That's what gives her clout in the
marketplace, in politics, in the financial world.

In her latest book, Influence: How Women's Soaring
Economic Power Will Transform Our World for the Better
, she provides what
Publisher's Weekly calls "a riveting exploration of
female economic emancipation in the 21st century as women all over the world are
becoming financially powerful enough to stand on their own and tip global power
balances."

The advance rave review on the book was published last week.

"Why shouldn't women be equal?" she asks me. "Why should gender define roles
in life?"

I've read the galleys of her book, and now we are talking about the impact of
her work before it even hits the bookstores.

With her co-author, Christine Larson, she's writing an online blog (Huffingtonpost.com/maddy-dychtwald) that already has men --
mostly men over 50, she says -- complaining.

"If women gain power and influence in politics, finances, whatever, they
think it's a loss for men not a win/win. Some people are scared I'm upsetting
apple carts," she says.

Well, here are the facts, guys and gals:

At the turn of the 20th century, women couldn't vote, couldn't choose when to
get pregnant, couldn't pursue higher education, couldn't have credit in their
name or own property in some states, couldn't expect to find a job outside of
domestic work or factory labor.

A hundred years later, history is rushing forward for women, Dychtwald says.

More women than men are graduating from high school, college and graduate
programs in the U.S.

Women hold 49 percent of all nonfarm jobs and 51 percent of all management,
professional and related positions. About 40 percent of U.S. firms are
female-owned. The number of women earning $100,000 or more tripled between 1991
and 2001. Women control 51.3 percent of the nation's private wealth.

Dychtwald tells me about her interviews with 118 women. They talked about
business, the marketplace, families and the future of men.

Men, particularly younger men, are going through "role revolution," she says.
Men are re-imagining their lives, spending more time with family, feeling less
shackled to careers as they are no longer the sole breadwinner.

"We are moving away from 'women's concerns' toward a future of 'family
concerns' involving men as well as women," she says.

"Betty Friedan once told me her goal was that women no longer be measured
like men. We have finally reached a place where we can be our authentic selves."