Thursday, January 21, 2010

Another Reason To Get More Schoolin'

Apparently, the past several years of women outnumbering men in college and beyond is causing some "operational sex ratio" disturbances in the force.*  Women are finding themselves successful in work but not so much in love as guys get scared off by women who have more education and more money.  Guys are stupid, apparently.
Couple the education gap with the current economic "man-cession"—as many as 80% of the jobs lost in the recession were held by men—and the dilemma for single women becomes even worse. Today, more and more well-educated women have to ask themselves: Am I willing to "marry down."
And this is the theme of the week.   On How I Met Your Mother, the successor to Seinfeld in the "Social Science lab as a TV show" category, there was a discussion of settlers and reachers.  That is, in everyone couple, one person is settling for someone who is not quite as worthy, and one person who is reaching a bit beyond their level.  So, my first thought was how many fights did this start across North America?  Who wants to be seen as settling?  As reaching? 

Well, the WSJ article seems to suggest that guys wimp out and refuse to reach.  If they find themselves in a date with a woman with a better resume, they flee.  Now, guys flee for all kinds of reasons, but this seems just stupid to me.  Guys are going to have to get used to the possibility that their mates make more money and be more successful.  Women should play to the worst instincts in guys and remind them that they can supply them with the DVR's, i-phones, and other doodads that are candy to tech-loving men.  Or not.

A more worrisome issue arises when men take advantage of their relative scarcity by making life miserable for would-be girlfriends. Why settle down when you are a guy and the supply of eligible women appears to be unlimited? The female students hate such a situation, which is one reason admissions offices end up accepting male applicants who are less academically qualified than their female counterparts. Their goal is to avoid the dreaded 60/40 gender imbalance on campus that everyone agrees is a threshold not to be crossed.
I have noticed the imbalances at the college level, including at McGill.  A buyer's market, with guys being advantaged?  I guess relative balances are better, as too much of anything will create too much competition and then friction. 

[You can download the entire episode from, but I cannot due to the magic wall between the US and Canada, but here is a promo for the episode--full of Amanda Peet but lacking in social theory]

* HT to to Chris C., first year student at UCSD, my alma PhD mater for the WSJ link.

1 comment:

R. William Ayres said...

My current institution crossed that dreaded 60/40 barrier a while ago. I'm not sure what the ramifications are, except that running 67/33 (as we do) seems to bring some of the less-good aspects of being an all-women institution without the corresponding cultural benefits.

Then again, I'm happily married and stay well away from my students' social lives, so I may not know much.