You Can Have a Career, Marriage, and Children Too
society changes and the roles of women get more complicated, many
women are deciding to combine motherhood with a career. This seems
to be an ideal situation. A woman can fulfill her own dreams of
success in the world and still have the family that she wants.
But, it this
really the way it works?
20 years ago,
the more years of graduate school an American woman had completed,
the less likely she was to be married later in life and the more
likely she was to be childless. Is it true, then, that women still
need to choose either higher education and a successful career
a University of Washington associate professor of economics, decided
to look at this question scientifically. What she found is that
this difference still often bemoaned in the press
is fast disappearing. Getting
a graduate degree is not the hindrance to marriage and motherhood
it once was. "There used to be a marked trade-off between
higher education and marriage," Rose said, "but that
is no longer the case."
How did she
come to this conclusion? To document the dramatic shrinkage in
what Rose calls the "success gap" during the 1980s and
1990s, she analyzed millions of census records and tracked the
education and marriage status of Americans in the 40-44 age group.
a woman that age who had completed three years of graduate school
was 14 percentage points less likely to be married than her counterpart
with only a high school diploma. By 2000, that 14-point difference
had melted to 5.
Rose was initially
surprised by her findings. Conventional
wisdom has it that women tend to "marry up" they
marry men who are more successful scientist have a name
for this - they call it hypergamy. With increasing numbers of
highly educated women flooding the "marriage market"
in the 1980s and '90s, Rose expected to see fewer of them finding
life partners. While
she did find in the 1980 census was a strong likelihood for women
to marry better-educated men. When she analyzed census records
for later years, she found that tendency had evaporated over the
next two decades.
mean that economic theory doesn't work here? "Not
at all," Rose said. "It means that the market is adjusting
to accommodate the increased supply of educated women."
very nature of marriage is changing," she added. "It
has become less about what economists refer to as 'specialization
and exchange' -- the wife taking responsibility for the home while
the husband brings home the bacon and more about shared
roles and commonality of backgrounds."
is that the overall decline in marriage is concentrated among
the less educated especially for men.
such as the New York Times' Maureen Dowd have lamented the threat
that career success poses to a woman's opportunity for motherhood,
Rose also tracked whether highly educated women have fewer children.
She found that, while there is still a significant "motherhood
success gap," that gap is shrinking, too.
perception that women face a stark choice between career and family,"
Rose said, "is becoming less accurate in each successive
for highly educated women to marry was even mirrored in Rose's
own life. "While
the computer was crunching away on the data last year," she
said, "I (Ph.D. and all) met the man of my dreams, and got
So, the good
news is that the times are changing and society is beginning to
reflect that change. What women have always known is being recognized
by the rest of the world. Bright women who want both a career
and a family can look forward to succeeding at both!
Chiff Resources for Graduation: