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Any hint of bad news about the successful or talented has always made headlines, but media pessimism about the happiness and life balance of millions of young, career-oriented women has struck a chord nationwide. Successful men are romantically interested only in their secretaries. And if a woman makes a lot of money, men will be intimidated. If you attended a good school, have an impressive job, have career aspirations or dream of future success, men will find you less attractive.

Nearly half of single women believe their professional success is intimidating to the men they meet. Put another way, many high-achieving women think their success is not helping them find love. They want someone who is going to be at home. This stunt became popular enough to inspire a Sex and the City episode. Both of them are lying — she to diminish her status, and he to inflate it. The stereotypes are powerful, and many high-achieving women have created similar strategies. When Zara, a year-old business school student, was an undergraduate at an East Coast Ivy League school, she and her friends used to fabricate identities that they assumed would be more attractive to men.

We met all sorts of guys. Given this prevalent conventional wisdom, it perhaps comes as no surprise that the romantic lives of accomplished women make front- headlines only to tout bad news. Finally, these negative ideas hit a saturation point in , when outspoken New York Times columnist and feminist Maureen Dowd embraced this well-worn myth. Three years later, Maureen Dowd blamed her own single life on her career success. In her book Are Men Necessary? How odd, then, to find out now that being a maid would have enhanced my chances with men.

These two books have had a profound effect on the way young, career-oriented women perceive their relationships. Carolyn, 36, had recently ended a four-year relationship when the bad news books and articles began to garner large-scale media attention. She was getting anxious. Should I listen more? Should I flatter more? Should I postpone talking about my stuff, should I put it off until he likes me for my personality? Should I laugh more? Among single women in their 20s and 30s, the topics of marriage, career, and life balance are at center stage.

You never hear about the relationships that are going well, the people who have found a great match. And most of them have gotten graduate degrees themselves. You tend to focus on school after a while. In , researchers at the University of Michigan published a study in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, which, loosely summarized, found that the men in their sample would prefer to marry a woman whom they considered to be a subordinate, rather than a woman they considered to be a superior or a peer. More than newspaper and magazine articles, plus dozens of radio spots aired multiple times each , plus TV commentaries — and, of course, countless Internet mentions — grew from the Michigan study.

Why question a real study, then, especially when many educated minds apparently had a chance to review it? And this is national news? To throw more fat into the fire, a multiuniversity English and Scottish study emerged a few weeks later, reporting that women with higher IQ scores were less likely to marry than women with lower IQ scores, whereas the opposite was true for men. This exhaustive study, well-researched and rigorous, followed nearly men and women from age 11 through adulthood. With each up-tick in IQ scores, women were less likely to have married by midlife, but men were that much more likely to marry.

Once again, the researchers were reputable. Plus, in this case, the of individuals researched and the range in their backgrounds gave the study additional validity. With apparent justification, worldwide media gave the study thorough coverage. Scores of stories appeared on TV, radio, and in print — again, not to mention the volume on the Internet.

These women were born seven years before the UK granted equal voting rights to women. When these seniors were coming of age in the early s, women had to re their jobs upon marriage and top universities were still closed to female students. Not until these women reached their 50s would equal pay be implemented in the Civil Service. Does Bad News Sell? So why do the news media and popular culture outlets so eagerly perpetuate destructive bad news for successful women? A magazine journalist, Eileen, age 34, said she understands the media craze for bad news.

But then Eileen pauses, and considers yet another option: that the quest for Mr. Another reason these dire statistics have such resonance: They were true for our aunts and mothers and older mentors. In , the median age of marriage nationwide for women was But according to the Census, a woman with a graduate degree was twice as likely to still be single between the ages of 25 and 34 than a woman who had a college degree or less.

In fact, 1 in 5 women with graduate degrees And though we all need a good bitch session every now and then — and though it always seems worse for us than for anyone else — the news, girls, is good. High-achieving women marry at the same rate as all other women; they just do so a bit later in life. Smart women do get married. Men do make passes at girls who wear glasses.

The Real Story. Others look at the sexiness of status Is having a high-powered job related to sexual attraction? And still others explore power and ambition. There are plenty of successful, talented, and ambitious women who have chosen not to go to grad school or who have taken prestigious but lower-paying jobs in public service, the arts, politics, or diplomacy. They are women who aspire to be outstanding at whatever profession or activity they choose. Success, and the aspiration to succeed, comes in many forms. Sex and power are often linked, but most sociological theories and media headlines predict that it is women who will flock to high-powered men and find them the most attractive, whereas men will be drawn to docile and subordinate women.

Yet a article in the American Journal of Sociology, overlooked by the media, reports just the opposite: High-status and powerful women are rated as more attractive. Based on a study of interpersonal relationships in 60 different communities nationwide, the author concludes that women in positions of power are sexier to men than are more subordinate women. Research by Megan Sweeney, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, adds another data point to the good news plot: Higher-earning women marry at higher rates.

For black women, that same salary bump increases the likelihood of marriage by more than 8 percent. And the trend only improves. Economist Elaina Rose at the University of Washington studies the relationship between marriage rates and education level, and how the two have affected each other over time. By looking at U. By the Census, that penalty had largely disappeared. The Current Population Survey CPS , a yearly representative sample of 60, households nationwide, tracks education, income, and marriage data.

High-achieving women marry at the same rates as all other women; they just do it a little later. So in that first wave of lates weddings, successful women may be feeling a little panicky. Some 55 percent of women with graduate degrees have married by age 29, compared to 61 percent of other women.

She has the awareness, and has been raised to ask the questions that will immediately be obstacles to getting married. Kama, a consultant in Chicago, said she and her friends, all in their early 30s, have been doing some studies of their own to test whether their degrees are holding them back on the dating scene — and the have been promising. She got the same of ask-outs from each pool. For Julia, the New York lawyer who told men at bars that she was a secretary, things changed at So she told him she was a lawyer.

He can talk to me and I understand him. From the time we met, it was like a first date that never ended. We were engaged in four months and married in under a year. They are both seriously dating men who value their intelligence, and they feel confident that their good experiences are the norm. I can think of so many examples where guys are sometimes attracted to beautiful, blond, popular girls when they are young, but when they are older, they are looking for girls who are brighter, and have more intellectual qualities.

More so now than 50 years ago, men want women who are their equals or superiors. By ages 35 to 39, a higher percentage of high-achieving women have walked down the aisle than their less accomplished sisters.

The Price of the Success Myth. New data reveal that a high-achieving woman is more likely to marry just the kind of man conventional wisdom would suggest would be intimidated by her apparent success. More than half of married women with graduate degrees are married to men without graduate degrees. Yet the myth that successful women are overqualified for love seems to persist.

For other women, the relentless pressure from relatives and bad news in the headlines makes them insecure enough to stay in bad relationships too long. Do I really want to date again? Carolyn blames herself for the failure of the relationship. In the past few years, she founded her own advertising company and devoted a lot of time to building her client base. So part of her believes that her relationship failed because it was her fault: She is too bright.

That pisses me off. John, 29, a professor at a prominent business school, noted that this effect is obvious on the male side of the market as well. It used to be women who were totally in control. Now it seems like the men hold all the cards. Women just seem really anxious to partner up and seem to put up with an astonishing amount of messing about from men. Successful women in their 30s have options — and SWANS in their late 30s are ificantly more likely to walk down the aisle than their less accomplished sisters.

For year-old women with graduate degrees, their chances of marrying by age 40 are 25 percent higher than for their sisters without the advanced degrees. Less educated women marry earlier; those brides gliding down the aisle in their 30s are more likely to be SWANS. SWANS are leading ever-richer lives. Young women are pursuing education and dream careers and embarking on international adventures of their own. They want to travel, be cultured. A lot of women are going to graduate school, and it strains the relationship. My mom followed my dad everywhere. Up to a certain point, waiting a bit longer to get married, and pursuing higher education and career interests along the way, may increase the chances of marital bliss.

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Women prefer good looks over intelligence and civility in men, finds study