Forbes Suggests: Don't Marry a Career Woman
Summary: Sure it’s easy to blame the correlation between working women and divorce, but with how many women are working nowadays you could have the same correlation arise by saying most divorces occur between women who drive, so “Don’t Marry a Woman Driver”.
A recent opinion column in Forbes hits directly on a topic I try to sidestep as a woman who heads a men’s organization for mentoring career women: that of men’s secret opinions and evaluations of whether or not the women at the office would be sexually attractive mates as well as coworkers.
The real issue here is if working women are indeed anti-family. The author Michael Noer is trying to protect men, but his block and tackle is misplaced.
We know that salary bias arises most intensely when women bear children, and that childless women are often fighting the bias that long-term they may have kids, and ultimately other priorities than the company’s needs.
So which is it, the company’s needs or the family’s needs?
The Forbes article suggests that marriages in which women have careers are more likely to end in divorce, but the fact is that according to the latest Labor Bureau statistics, even though most women are not working full time, about 71% of US mothers do have paid jobs, qualifying them to be called “career women”. And 61% of those working moms have a child at home under three.
With or without kids, chances are a man will date and marry a woman who will work outside the home at some point while they are married. So chances are when the marriage splits up, the guy will have divorced a "working woman" according to research criteria.
Companies need women to work as much as the women need to work both for money and personal fulfillment. No one questions when a man goes to work for his family and divides his priorities. Evidence shows that married men with children are paid more than anyone else. If compensation reflects value to the business, then having kids is a great motivator to men to work. Why isn’t it viewed the same way for women yet?
Most of the feminist response to the Forbes opinion article has been not only to attack the author, but men in general. This saddens me, because it isn’t just fat, lazy, non-earning men that are seeking real answers to why their personal relationships with women don’t seem to be working out. Sure it’s easy to blame the correlation between working women and divorce, but with how many women are working nowadays you could have the same correlation arise by saying most divorces occur between women who drive, so “Don’t Marry a Woman Driver”.
I’ve often said men judge working women in the context of the women they have experienced personally, such as their mother, their sister, or women they have dated. If they can’t find something positive and familiar with a woman at work, they think of that woman as unsafe or untrustworthy. This is a major blow to the woman’s career when trust is such a large component of promotions and leadership.
I love the Forbes opinion, because it shows a guy honest and vulnerable, but confusing the facts, and instead of correcting him or giving him alternatives, he is being pounced on. Perhaps he should have shared his thoughts privately with some women he trusts before throwing them out to a public who misses his point because he suggests the wrong solution.
I’ve heard the damage is done to career women, but in my opinon we need to do a better job than another viewpoint from Salon.com's Rebecca Traister, collecting opinions from women around the country who take this as another opportunity to be angry with men. By going to the source of the data Michael Noer uses to form his opinion, we learn that the two guys at the University of Virginia are looking for answers, too. And their conclusion is that what really makes a marriage work is the, “men’s marital emotion work” and “gender equity and the normative commitment to the institution of marriage”. In other words, loyalty and nurturing are the traits that make marriage work. Career, laid off, or retired.