Why losing a job can hurt men more (Philadelphia Inquirer 2/4/09)

By Christopher Wink | Feb. 4, 2009 | Philadelphia Inquirer

Thomas Schuler is a man.

Since October, he also has been without a job, a combination of characteristics that some say comes with distinct disadvantages.

That’s because unemployment affects men differently than women – research shows joblessness often is emotionally harder for men to bear. And with the economy hemorrhaging high numbers of jobs, disproportionately in male-dominated industries, those disparate emotions – shame, anger, fear, vulnerability – are on display more than ever. These feelings often find their way into other parts of a man’s life, affecting relationships with friends, wife and children.

“Historically, men have been in the breadwinner role in families, and so their sense of self is wrapped up in their ability to provide,” said Jerry Jacobs, a University of Pennsylvania sociology professor whose research focuses on labor. “So even today, when men are unemployed, that comes as a different kind of blow than to women.”

Schuler was proud when he landed his job as a facilities engineer at a struggling hotel in Plymouth Meeting. But when his position became a casualty of his company’s struggles, he suffered.

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