The sexual paradox of women’s economic advancement (5×8 – 4/17/12)

Careers as fall-back if the man search doesn’t work out, the soldier saint, to the patios of Uptown, the case of the handcuffed kindergartener, and 30 days of biking.


A study from the University of Minnesota says that the more scarce men are, the more high-powered a woman’s career choice is.

“Most women don’t realize it, but an important factor in a woman’s career choice is how easy or difficult it is to find a husband,” researcher Kristina Durante of the University of Texas San Antonio said, in a U of M news release. “When a woman’s dating prospects look bleak – as is the case when there are few available men – she is much more likely to delay starting a family and instead seek a career.”

The study says women invest in their careers more under the circumstances.

This research highlights a sexual paradox associated with women’s economic and educational advancement. “As women pursue more education and more lucrative careers when they can’t find a husband, the ironic effect is that it will only get harder to find a husband as women become more educated and earn higher salaries,” said Durante. “This is because a woman’s mating standards keep increasing as she becomes more educated and wealthy, which further decreases the number of suitable mates. More than ever before, modern women are increasingly forced to make tough choices such as choosing briefcase over baby.”

The release suggests careers for women are a fall-back if the quest for a man doesn’t work out.

Who wants to take that one?

Related: It’s Equal Pay Day. Women in Minnesota are paid 78 cents for every dollar paid to men, the National Partnership for Women & Families says. For women of color, it’s 62 cents. It’s 54 cents for Latinos.

“I can’t tell you the countless number of women (during college advising) that have said, ‘I need a job that’s flexible so I can support my family,’ ” emotionally and financially, Erienne Fawcett, a women’s studies instructor at North Dakota State University tells the Fargo Forum. “I’ve never had a guy sit down and say, ‘I need a job that’s flexible’ for those same reasons,” she says.

Fact-checking: Have women assumed the burden of job losses in the recession? The Washington Post looks at the data:

In fact, more than a third of female job losses have been in local government jobs; the number of female-held jobs in the federal government has also declined by about 51,000, while state government declines have been marginal. (Since the numbers in the local government section of the database are not seasonally adjusted, we compared figures for January 2009 with January 2012. Comparing figures of the same month is more accurate, especially in teaching.)


A group of Kansas politicians is pushing Washington to honor Father Emil Kapaun with the Medal of Honor.

He sacrificed himself in the Korean War when he had a chance to escape with able-bodied soldiers. His capture and forced march northward with hundreds of other American prisoners ended in his death from starvation, cold and lack of basic medical care at a prison camp in North Korea six months later, the BBC reports in an extensive look at Kapaun’s life today.

In Kansas, he’s not a war hero, he’s a saint.


A proposal at the Minneapolis City Council to restrict Uptown restaurant patios appears dead for now, Southwest Journal reports.

(City Council Member Meg) Tuthill had proposed cutting outdoor music at 10 p.m., requiring patio bars to serve wait staff, not customers, and enforcing stricter capacity limits. After backlash from her colleagues on the council, the Ward 10 councilwoman instead convened a taskforce of neighbors, city regulatory staff and restaurant owners to come up with solutions.

That group came up with a list of ideas for mitigating noise: a hush program that is already being used and reminds patrons they’re in a neighborhood and to keep their voices down; voluntarily reducing hours of amplified music; promoting the new parking facility at MoZaic and increased police patrols.


A Georgia police chief is making no apologies for handcuffing a kindergartener who was picked up for throwing a temper tantrum in school. “Our policy is that any detainee unreported to our station in a patrol vehicle is to be handcuffed int he back. There is no age discrimination on that rule,” said Milledgeville Chief of Police Dray Swicord.


It’s Day 17.

Bonus I: Twenty-three hours of Target Field:

Bonus II: Taxpayers, stop whining. You’ve got it good. (CBS)

Bonus III: “Is climate change fueling more killer storms?” asks today. And then fails to answer the question.

Bonus IV: Starting at 7:45 a.m. to 10 this morning, the space shuttle Discovery is flying around the landmarks of Washington. NASA TV is providing video.


Today’s the deadline for Americans to pay their income tax. Today’s Question: What changes to the federal income tax would you like to see?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Anthony Shadid, foreign correspondent and the author of House of Stone, died in Syria in February. His widow, New York Times correspondent Nada Bakri, talks about the loss of her husband and their time as journalists in the Middle East.

Second hour: Why are we more addicted than ever to stupid digital games?

Third hour: Civil War historians.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Ira Shapiro, author of “The Last Great Senate,” moderated by former U.S. Sen. Walter Mondale.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Eleven Secret Service agents have been placed on leave after allegations of misconduct involving prostitutes in Colombia. But this is hardly the first scandal where the “best of the best” embarrassed their boss, the President, and the American people.Second hour: The drones that changed warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan patrolled more and more American skies. And everybody wants them: from farmers who want to monitor crops, to police departments who want to track criminals on the run. Critics, though, worry about safety and privacy violations.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Just after Pearl Harbor was attacked, President Roosevelt ordered a counter-punch. B-25 bombers, led by Jimmy Doolittle, took off from an aircraft carrier and launched a sneak-attack on Japan. Seventy years after their top-secret mission, the survivors known as Doolittle’s Raiders reunite. NPR will have the story.

There’s a flying B-25 based at Fleming Field in South St. Paul. Colleagues Julia Schrenkler and Michael Wells visited it a couple of years ago. Consider that Doolittle’s Raiders got these to take off, with bombs aboard, from an aircraft carrier.

  • I didn’t know there was a still-flying B-25 based here in the twin cities.

    And yeah, Doolittle’s Raiders had brass cojones and mad skills to pull that off.

  • Bob Moffitt

    “There is no age discrimination on that rule”

    I don’t see any age decrimination in that story at all. What I do see is a poor choice of words following a wrong decision based on a bad policy. It looks like the chief and his patrolmen are the ones handcuffed by an inflexible policy on restraining detainees.

    Re: the Doolittle Raid. I’ll put on my DVD of “Thirty Seconds Over Tokoyo” this week.

  • allie

    RE: #1 Eye roll. That’s all. Can’t even dignify the pursuit of such an asinine hypothesis with more words.

  • Clifton

    Regarding the pay difference myth, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 explicitly prohibits companies for paying men and women different wages for doing the same work. Life choices, working hours, added benefits, different types of job all contribute to the gap and aren’t usually accounted for.

  • Concerning women and careers – I’m not surprised by the U of MN study. It validates some of the psychological reading I’ve done, mainly the book The Cinderella Complex. Feminists might find it controversial, but the basic premise, in context of this study, is that the women without marriage prospects had to choose their career so they could provide for themselves.

    Concerning handcuffing 6-year-olds – a court might find that to be excessive and unusual punishment for a temper-tantrum. But from the parents’ own comments, I would recommend a parenting class as they seem to think the child’s behavioral problems are just “bad days.” Maybe, but maybe it’s a discipline issue in the home too. At 6 a child should know they can’t throw things in a rage – that’s behavior of a toddler. It’s not this girl’s fault if she hasn’t been taught to control herself better, but her parents should take this as a wake-up call.

  • Re: #1. Right, because all we women do during our 20s is use all our time and energy to find a husband, and once we feel all is hopeless, only THEN do we go try to build a career. And after that, if we happen to find a man to marry somewhere along the line, of course we have to choose between having a successful career and having a child, since lord knows women aren’t capable of handling both. Eye roll indeed.

  • Kevin

    I don’t understand the big deal about #1. Having a family takes time. A lot of time. So if men are scarce, fewer women are getting married and starting families, so women have a lot more time, and so naturally some of them dedicate some of that time to their careers.

  • Jim Shapiro

    I think the researchers probably meant GENDER paradox.

    Gender = social role based on reproductive anatomy. Sexual = fun/reproductive things done (or not) with said anatomy.

    Drae – Read Camille Paglia?

  • Kevin, the big deal about #1 is that it assumes the only goal in a woman’s life is to marry and have a family, and it assumes that a woman has to make a choice between having a successful career and having a child. In the eyes of society, it’s never a problem for MEN to have a successful career and a family, because it’s always assumed that the women always take on the responsibility of child-rearing while the man earns the money. This assumption plays a role in the pay gap as well. Women’s earnings tend to plateau around the age of 35, while men’s earnings typically continue to rise.

    This is worth a read:

  • @Jim Shapiro –

    No, I’ve never read her.

    I do find it interesting that some people are reading more into the study than what the researchers stated. The researchers themselves are not saying women can’t balance career and family, but it’s being interpreted that way. The researchers conducted a study and are simply reporting their findings. Whether we like the findings or not has nothing to do with the actual findings.

    Something else that might be skewing the findings is that more and more young people are shunning marriage over divorce fears. But, hey! Let’s just assume the researchers are trying to insult women.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Drae – Even in otherwise intelligent individuals, strong emotions override rational analysis.

    Thus, the frequent misinterpretation of simple DESCRIPTION as being PRESCRIPTION.

  • @Noelle –

    I don’t think that is their assumption. The press release starts with the fact that more women are earning degrees then men, which suggests women are very interested in pursuing a career. However, the findings suggest marriage prospects play a role in how much women focus on their careers.

    If there is an assumption being made here, it is on the women and not the researchers. You are angry at them for pointing it out, but it’s on you and me and our sisters that we’re creating this data.

  • Kevin

    Yeah, I get it. Life is about sacrifices. Some people choose career, some choose family, some choose to juggle both. All of those choices involve a sacrifice. Most men don’t choose to stay home with their family full-time, but some do (I did). This leaves most (but not all women) to make difficult choices.

    But none of this is new or surprising.