Would you advise your daughter to look for a husband while she’s in college?
Susan Patton set off internet mania with her recent ‘letter to the Daily Princetonian newspaper advising the school’s female students: “You will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you. . . . Find a husband on campus before you graduate.”‘
Her advice proved wildly unpopular among a vocal segment of progressive thinkers.
Feminist attacks on Ms. Patton began immediately—the paper’s website was swamped with complaints, the Twitter crowd was livid, and writers lit into her at Slate, New York magazine and beyond.
Another mother gave the same advice.
Five years ago when she was a Dartmouth college junior, Emily Esfahani Smith was surprised when her mother gave her similar advice to start looking for a husband. Why would “a strong, career-oriented feminist” start pressuring her daughter to get married?
.. She knew what few, if any, feminists would tell young women today: There is far more to happiness than career success.
It turns out academically gifted women value their careers less than similar men do.
Career success and relationships are both undoubtedly important to women’s happiness, but many young and ambitious women value their personal lives more than their career aspirations. And that feeling intensifies over time.
In a 2009 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, David Lubinski and his team at Vanderbilt found that in a sample of academically gifted young adults, women became less career-oriented than men over time. As they approached middle age, women also placed more value than men on spending time with family, community and friends. These differences became more pronounced with parenthood.
Some reasons to try for early marriage:
- There is a larger pool of eligible men for younger women, given the historical patterns of assortative mating and hypergamy.
- Finding the right husband is important whether a woman wants to prioritize career or family.
- A good marriage can be personally fulfilling.
Some reasons to wait:
- In some cases, early marriages are at greater risk of divorce. (The more important factors correlating with higher divorce rates appear to be marriage at age 20 or younger and the lack of a college degree.)
- Marriage may limit a woman’s education and career choices.
- Some people need more time to develop and understand their values.
… Don’t get married so young you don’t understand life, or too old that you can’t experience the joy of losing yourself in a loving spouse and family. I’d spend a couple years seeing the world after the Ivy League before making the leap.
Megan McArdle expounded on the topic, and made the point that the “age at which the right person comes along depends on luck, not some kind of calendar”.
In this annoying but slightly amusing video, Garfunkel and Oates sing about how things change for a woman between the ages of 29 and 31.
- SPECIAL SECTION: Responses to Susan Patton ’77 (thedailyprincetonian.wordpress.com)
- College-educated wives dropping out of the workforce (Cost of College)