Faith Popcorn (born Faith Plotkin) has been issuing predictions about the future based on current trends for a few years now – something important, given she’s in the business of marketing. As a futurist, though, those predictions usually end up going well past what is useful for marketing purposes. Futurism is the science (pseudo-science?) of predicting the future in a scientific way, which is how it differentiates itself from shot-in-the-dark methods like psychic evaluations and tarot cards. Granted, solid empirical knowledge doesn’t tend to do any better in predicting the future, in fact futurists might as well be reading tea leaves.
Still, some of Popcorn’s predictions for 2012 and the rest of the decade seem reasonable, considering the trends. Thus year, Popcorn is pushing what she calls She-Change, or a movement of values in society and business favoring traditionally female traits. She has some good reasons to think that way – right now two-thirds of all undergraduate degrees and 60 percent of all Master’s degrees are going to females, with women in their twenties on average making eight percent more than their male counterparts. With females rapidly rising as a source of entrepreneurial start-ups, Popcorn predicts that by the end of the decade, more women than men will own start-ups.
Popcorn goes on to predict a continued decrease in the prevalence of the traditional nuclear family, with interest in marriage on the part of women on the decline, as they become more career and goal-oriented. The rise to power of women in the business world thanks to a cultural shift towards valuing feminine traits will lead to a greater emphasis placed on ensuring female leadership in most major companies. Popcorn cites the success of women in the investing world, citing statistics that have women out-performing men, earning an average of nine percent in returns compared to 5.82 percent for males.
Popcorn wraps up by talking about the already strong role women have in business in Asian countries, something she believes is a sign of things to come for the rest of the world – at least, for companies that want to remain successful.
So, how accurate will Popcorn be? You can read her piece in its entirety below, and buckle up for the next eight years to see how things turn out. Likely, Popcorn’s views are a little overstated – some of her points, particularly the prevalence of depression in males and the need for females to lend their viewpoint to help men through their struggles, are wildly oversimplified, with both genders today experiencing complex and challenging emotional problems (Asian-American women are dramatically more at-risk for suicide than most other demographics, something that remains a pressing and understated issue today).
Popcorn offers this as a parting shot -
We need to rely on compassion more than competition and innovation more than invasion. The introduction of this new feminine power into all aspects of our lives will bring about a new era of productivity and peace.
She has that right to an extent, but if we really want that new era of productivity and peace, the surest way to get there is for all of us to share the best of our individual traits to create it. Unfortunately, humanity doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to that endeavor.