By Peg Johnston • April 03, 2008•Firms and the Private Sector
The WSJ Online recently published this article that reports the findings of a recent study that women professionals are more likely than male professionals to be divorced, with women MBA's twice as likely as male MBAs. These findings of course raise all sorts of issues (including culture, societal pressures, work life balance, ambition) and we could go on and on about the differences between men and women in today's America.
While the article suggests that professional women are "opting out" of marriage and family in order to have careers, the point at the end of the article is interesting to me:
Ms. Hewlett believes more is at play than just a prevailing image that high-earning women are a threat to men. Suggesting that highly successful women are attracted to similarly successful men, she put forward the idea that such women "can't summon up the TLC and support that high-earning men need."
Her advice? Well-educated, highly compensated women should be targeting particularly loving and supportive men.
This begs the question, then, whether being a supportive spouse is a full time job. Afterall, as a professional woman, I don't have time for another full time job -- something's got to give and maybe for many women that something is their marriage.
However, to some how suggest that high earning men "need" full-time spouses to support them and that high-earning women do not is well, insulting to men and I don't think a factual concept at its core (society may tell men they need such a wife but that doesn't make it so). Her statement suggests that the men are leaving their high-earning wives because the women don't give them TLC. (The old "blame the woman for not being a 'good wife'" argument that society can't seem to lay to rest.) What if its the women that are doing the leaving because they just can't have two full-time jobs and to expect them to is ridiculous? Oh, and what if these women also need support and TLC from their spouses? One thing I will say is that it is my belief (not based on a scientific study but more anecdotal) that financially secure women are more likely than similarly secure men to think they can go it alone if faced with an unsupportive spouse-- hence the opting out of marriage makes sense. (This is the bottom line of the post on this topic at The Juggle and I agree.)
As for her advice, in the end... I too would argue that professional women need loving and supportive spouses. Perhaps the fact that more professional women are divorcing than their male counterparts and many more are staying away from marriage in the first place, suggests that (a) such "particularly loving and supportive men" are just not around or (b) that we just can't have two full time jobs.