You probably know that Maureen Dowd has been All Riled Up for months because she doesn’t know any men who want to marry her. And no, it’s not because she writes airhead columns like this one conferring “absolute” moral authority on antiwar has-been Cindy Sheehan. It’s because, as Dowd insists, smart men just don’t want to have anything to do with smart women like…Maureen Dowd:
” I’d been noticing a trend along these lines, as famous and powerful men took up with the young women whose job it was to tend to them and care for them in some way: their secretaries, assistants, nannies, caterers, flight attendants, researchers and fact-checkers.
“Women in staff support are the new sirens because, as a guy I know put it, they look upon the men they work for as ‘the moon, the sun and the stars.’ It’s all about orbiting, serving and salaaming their Sun Gods.”
When Dowd wrote the above plaint last year, concluding that brains and achievement were the kiss of death on the marriage market. One reason was that studies like this one were floating around:
“Men would rather marry their secretaries than their bosses, and evolution may be to blame,” psychology researchers at the University of Michigan reported last week.
“The study, in which college undergraduates were asked to make hypothetical choices, suggests that men in search of long-term relationships prefer to marry women in subordinate jobs rather than women who are supervisors, said Dr. Stephanie Brown, a social psychologist at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and the report’s lead author.”
That sounds depressing. But then, Christine D. Whelan, who’s one smart woman (B.A. from Princeton, doctorate from Oxford), asked the obvious question: What do the fantasies of 20-year college guys have to do with the actual behavior of those same guys when they grow up, graduate, get good jobs, and start looking around for potential wives? So she commissioned her own survey, based on marriage patterns collected by the U.S. Census Bureau.
And guess what! Here’s what she found:
“Smart, successful women marry at the same rates as all other women, and once married, they have children at the same rates as well. This is the good news for SWANS (Strong Women Achievers, No Spouse) in my book, Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women.
“For single women in their 30s, higher education may even be a bonus in the marriage market. According to 2005 Current Population Survey data-a nationally representative survey of 60,000 households commissioned yearly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics-there’s 75% chance that a never-married 30-year-old woman with an advanced degree will be a bride, compared with a 66% chance that a 30-year-old with a college degree or less will marry.
“Among married women who earn more than $50,000 per year and/or have a graduate degree, 78% have kids by age 36 to 40. That’s exactly the same percentage as all other married women who work full time. Having a career or education isn’t standing in the way.
“And men are more attracted to SWANS: According to a nationally representative 2006 Harris Interactive study, 71% of high-earning or graduate-educated men said a woman’s career or educational success makes her more desirable as a wife, 68% report that smart women make better mothers and 90% of high-achieving men say they want to marry – or are already married to – a woman who is as or more intelligent than they are.”
Isn’t that great? That’s why we at the IWF are hosting a reading by Whelan tomorrow evening from her new book, “Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women,” which details all these conclusions. The location: Heldreth Building ballroom, 1319 18th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036. The time: wine and cheese at 5, reading at 5:30, signings and more wine and cheese at 6. Yours truly will be live-blogging.
Whelan, by the way, is living proof of her own statistics: at age 29, she’s got a very smart fiance. So, Maureen, maybe it’s not men after all–maybe it’s you.