Since I started working for GoGirl, I have read a lot about female empowerment and the fact that we can do anything if we put our minds to it. As you can imagine, “What Women REALLY Want: To Marry a Rich Man and Stay at Home With the Children” is a type of headline that I don’t come across very often. It is an article that came out earlier this year in the UK’s DailyMail, and while somewhat sensationalized (likely for political reasons), it does raise some interesting thoughts.
The report by Dr. Catherine Hakim of the London School of Economics suggests that the idea of most women wanting to be financially independent is really a myth and that men dominate the top positions because women simply do not want careers in business.
“Women’s aspiration to marry up, if they can, to a man who is better-educated and higher-earning persists in most European countries,” she said. “Women thereby continue to use marriage as an alternative or supplement to their employment careers.”
Dr. Hakim also criticized David Cameron for backing the idea of quotas to ensure that leading companies appointed more women to their boards.
And according to the survey that followed Dr. Hakim’s report:
- 64% of women said they aspire to find a husband who brings home a larger pay packet than they do. None wanted to marry a man who earned less.
- 69% said they would prefer to stay at home to look after their children if money were not an issue.
While this certainly makes for an interesting read, does it really add any value? Nowadays, it is often impossible for many families to live comfortably on a single income. And women have become better educated and are increasingly moving into professions previously dominated by men; it seems only natural that they would meet men equally or more educated and successful.
Since my son was born three years ago, it has been fascinating to observe the choices that women make. Especially coming from a finance/strategy background and graduating from a business school program, many of my female friends and colleagues are extremely ambitious and have very successful careers. Now as many of us are starting families, each of us is faced with a different set of financial circumstances and personal beliefs (for example, some women feel like they are better mothers at home when they work outside of the home, whether it be part- or full-time).
Instead of debating what women really want, we should be supporting each other, no matter the choices. We should be trying to make the workplace better for women who chose to continue on with their careers after having children, better for women who want to on-ramp after taking a few years off while their children are small and be thankful for those women who chose to stay home (trust me, there will come a time when you will need a friend if an emergency arises).
And please, who would say “no thank you” if asked whether they would like to have a spouse who is “better-educated and higher-earning”? I know for a fact that my husband would LOVE it if I earned more than him.