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April 17, 2012

Do Women Really Want a Job Because They Can't Find a Man?

There's a study, so it must be true!

I knew there was a reason I read the Daily Mail Online, and it wasn't for all the celebrity gossip. It's where you find the best studies.

Yes, apparently researchers have found that "the real reason women pursue careers is because they fear they are too unattractive to get married."

I didn't fabricate that quote! It's right there, in the article. Go look! I'll wait.

See? I'm not a sexist pig. I wouldn't make up something as outlandish as that.

(Thanks to The Fashionables)

There are a whole jumble of things in this study to take a look at.

So in the immortal words of Tone Loc, "let's do it."

First, the article seems to take that quoted sentence above and contradict it in the next sentence. Apparently, when men are scarce in an area, women are also more likely to choose a career over having a family.

That makes sense, of course. When I'm looking in the freezer for some ice cream and I see chocolate but not vanilla, I tend to choose chocolate. Or, you know, I could go to the store and get some vanilla. Did you ever think of that? Women might actually move if they want a family and there aren't any guys around? What a concept!

Of course, if they stay in the area, they're more likely to choose career. Because there are no men! What a stupid statement.

But then it gets even weirder. Ladies, please put down your pitchforks. I'm only the messenger.

Apparently the plainer a woman feels she is, the more driven she is to succeed in the workplace (the article first says "the plainer a woman is," but then later on mentions that it's self-perception). This could very well be true in some cases; in fact, it could be true in many cases. The thing is, I think this has a lot more to do with self-image issues in general, of which the feeling of attractiveness is only one aspect of that. Even "the beautiful people" can have self-image issues, feeling that they are useless (even if they do feel that they're hot) and that they can't do anything right. When you bring the self-image of somebody who doesn't think they're attractive into things, it's very possible you'll run into this. Even then, they may be driven to succeed but also afraid of failing or doing what's necessary to succeed.

Confused? I know I am. What it all boils down to, in my opinion, is that there is a lot more to the drive for success than whether or not you feel you're attractive.

The methodologies behind these studies are hilarious too. (I'm not a psychologist, obviously, though I do play one on TV. So I can't comment on whether these methods are scientifically sound or not. I can just say that they're funny)
"The first looked at the number of eligible men in an area, which they called the 'operational sex ratio'.

After collecting data from across the U.S., they found that as the number of eligible men in a state decreased, the proportion of women in highly paid careers rose.

In addition, the women who became mothers in those states did so at an older age and had fewer children."
Maybe I don't know my statistics, but I would think that if there are fewer men competing for jobs, it makes sense that there are more women in higher-paying jobs in a particular area. Am I wrong? If you have 50 men and 50 women competing for 50 jobs (all things being equal, of course), you would have a vastly different proportion of women in those jobs than if you had 25 men and 50 women competing for the same 50 jobs.

But here's where we get into the attractiveness function.
"The 87 young women were given mocked-up newspaper articles describing the sex ratio in nearby university campuses and were asked about their views on family and career.

They were also asked how attractive they believed themselves to be to men.

Those women who saw themselves as being less desirable than average were highly likely to be career-orientated."
First, isn't 87 women a bit small of a sample to make sweeping conclusions about half (or whatever the heck the proportion is) of the population on the planet? Or at least in the Western world?

Secondly, I think again this is getting into many more self-image issues than just self-perceived attractiveness.

Either I know a bunch of atypical women, or this study screams bullshit to me. (Yes, I'm aware that both of those could be true and not mutually exclusive, because I know some remarkable women).

I do notice that the article states that this study is "controversial" and contains a "startling" argument, but it never really gets into any of that. It just reports what the study says and moves on, with no dissenting view whatsoever.

What, they're leaving it for the comments?

So what do you think, ladies? Do you think this study is as full of it as I do?

Really unload. Tell me what you really think.

I can take it.


  1. These are the studies which make me want to knock heads into walls. Seriously! Someone poured a substantial amount of funds into said study, do you realize??? For what?! To make a truly asinine assumptive projection? Sounds like it to me.

    I can think of SO many better uses for those funds. Alas, the money has already been spent and the article published. And now we're all sitting here staring in fascinated horror at the idiocy contained therein. *SMH*, Dave. It's all I can do. And the obvious question is, why are gender based studies almost always skewed in such a manner as to undermine the female perspective in one or more ways? Why didn't they study men in the same manner? Who the heck spends time dwelling on topics like this?? I can assure you, it isn't us women. Most likely, this study was populated by male researchers, and for that blanket statement, I offer an apology, but only a small one. :)

    Every point you made, Dave, I was nodding along with you. I promise, btw, to not shoot the messenger. You didn't participate in the research or the writing of the sterling "findings". You just shared it with us, and made your female readership shudder in horror several times. ;-)

    - Dawnie

  2. Yeah, that money could have gone to much more important studies! Y'know, like "Why is Dave so awesome?" or something like that.

    You know if I happen upon a study in the UK Daily Mail (because that's the main place I seem to find them), I'm going to post them. :)

    Though I don't like to make my female readership shudder in least unintentionally.

    Thanks for yet another wonderful comment, Dawnie!


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