Why many high-end jobs today are going to women

Why many high-end jobs today are going to women

Career women are doing well in high-end jobs. PHOTO|FOTOSEARCH

This past week I met a "back in my day" guy.

Who is this so-called person you ask? A "back in my day" guy is the nostalgic baby boomer with the unmet need to talk about their golden past. This man is fixated with the days of yore, with the peak having occurred around high school. So their memories and conversations are nuanced with phrases like; "You know back in my day when I was at Alliance…." Other schools that these types of men like to infuse in their discussions are Starehe, Lenana, Patch aka Nairobi School, or Mang'u. These of course are the prestigious high schools where students proclaim loudly on TV that they want to be surgeons or pursue aeronautical engineering and never journalists or teachers. How come no one proudly states to have gone to Kacheliba high school in the barroom discussions?

I digress. The point I am trying to make is that I think your achievements should not peak at 14, but perhaps I'm setting the target a bit too high.

Still, I am envious of the generation that is 50 and above. Why? Because after Mr. "I went to Alliance" completed high school, he got a scholarship to study in the UK and had a plum government posting lined up for him when he landed back.

This guy has done his CV twice in his life and in both times, it's junior staff in his office who helped him do it. How lucky can one get?

Now, cut back to my life. As a millennial, I had to intern for almost two years after college in a job where I toiled from dawn to dusk and took home a measly Sh200.

I remember my mother joking that I should try mjengo jobs because they at least paid Sh500. Thank God, I transitioned from internships to consultancies but the truth is many graduates are still stuck at jobs that pay next to nothing.

They're in a world stacked against them. According to a September 2020 report by the Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate had doubled to 10.4 percent from 5.2 percent by March 2020 with over 1.7 million Kenyans losing their jobs. University enrolment in the 2019/20 period was at 510,000. You were told that education is the key but more people than before are graduating into what might be the hardest time in their lives.

So comes the discussion I've been having with friends over Masters degrees and whether or not to embark on one. As of 2020, 45,571 students had enrolled in Masters programmes while 5,604 were registered as Ph.D. students. Ph.D. students have a 20 percent completion rate while Masters certificate completion rate is closer to 50 percent. As you can see the numbers dip, the further up you go on the education ladder.

My eventual advice to any young man wondering whether or not to do their Masters is yes unless otherwise stated. There are exceptions to the rule but many workplaces are now expecting a Masters as a standard minimum and I doubt this will change any time soon. A different conversation with two gentlemen I look up to painted the same picture. They are both in their early 40's and they wish that they had pursued their Masters earlier. This firmed my resolve to enroll in a programme this September.

It's a competitive market out there. The system feels tipped and it's not in your favour. I've had to contend with being locked out of opportunities because I don't have this specific paper.

It gets even worse when you're a man over 30 because in your 20's you can be excused for not knowing 'what you want'. When you are 30-something and you are competing with 20-year-olds with a degree and a Master's certificate, you are the loser.

There's also a big gender difference in Masters's courses as I learnt talking to a Professor at the University of Nairobi. In many courses, women are outnumbering men and the gap has gotten bigger. Women are becoming way more marketable and men can't understand when the scales got tipped.

While higher education is not the start and end of success it will usher you through the door. And in this economy, you need everything you can get. If you've been waiting for a push, then this is it. Don't say I didn't tell you.