The Price of Success

Christine Whelan | Posted on 05/19/10

For once, I agree with Maureen Dowd.

In today's New York Times, she writes

When does a woman go from being single to unmarried?

Men, generally more favored by nature as they age, can be single at all ages. But often, for women, once you're 40 or 50, or simply beyond childbearing age, you're no longer single. You're unmarried - meaning it isn't your choice to be alone.

White House officials were so eager to squash any speculation that Elena Kagan was gay that they have ended up in a pre-feminist fugue, going with sad unmarried rather than fun single, spinning that she's a spinster.

There's plenty of good news for today's smart, successful women. (For 300+ pages of such news, check out my book, Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women.) But the reason that this news is noteworthy, is that it marks a change.

Elaina Rose, a professor at the University of Washington, finds that in 1980 a woman with a professional or doctoral degree was 18.2 percent less likely to be a mother than a woman with a bachelor's degree. (PDF

According to research by Harvard professor Claudia Goldin, among women who were born between 1944 and 1957 (women who would be 53 to 66 years old today) who graduated from col­lege and worked full-time, nearly 50 percent were childless by ages 37 to 47. (PDF) Even as recently as the 1980 Census, women with professional or doctoral qualifications were twice as likely to have no children at home at age 40 compared with women with a high school degree and some college.

Let's lay off the conjecture about Solicitor General Kagan's personal life, OK?


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