John Tierney: Male Pride and Female Prejudice.

by Tim Worstall

John Tierney predictably outrages various feminist groupies with his noting of two things. That more women than men are going to college now and that as women tend to look for mates of higher status (which is in our society is closely bound to income and educational levels) this might cause the odd problem or two.

Like larger numbers of high status women looking upwards and large numbers of low status males not being seen....and if we subscribe to the idea that pairing off is a good thing, to both side’s detriment.
Amanda Marcotte, bless her little cotton socks, manages to get a touch in
front of the story:
...the NY Times saw fit to run a column by John Tierney where he suggests that there be affirmative action to increase men's enrollment in college. But of course the reasoning is to help women get married--apparently, there's some kind of law that states that while it's perfectly fine for a man to marry someone with less education than he has, the Earth will stop its rotation in its tracks and we will plunge into the sun's gravitational pull if a woman ever defies nature and marries someone with less education than she has.

As a resonable reading of the column would inform said reader, Tierney is pointing to what does actually happen, describing human behaviour, not telling us what he thinks ought to happen. Echidne seems less badly informed but just as angry:
But the gist of it is that we must create affirmative action for men in college admissions. And why? Because otherwise all those educated women won't be able to marry!

What amuses me so much about this is that research I did last week into pay gaps and so on. We here in the UK also see more women than men going to university. We also see more women than men becoming doctors and solicitors, two traditionally high status and high pay professions. Great, absolutely fine is my general reaction.
But at the same time to be complaining about the gender pay gap is obtuse. As the figures that the Equal Opportunities Commission themselves were pointing to show, there is no gender gap in pay for the under 30s. There is, still, over the entire population, which could be taken as evidence that we used to have discrimination (which we did), the lack of such discrimination in the past 15 -20 years or so being shown by the absence of a gap in the younger age cohort.

In short, the gender pay gap is over, solved. Feminists can breathe easy, the battle is won. Can we move on to the next problem please?

When there are three women for every two men graduating from college, whom will the third woman marry?

This is not an academic question. Women, who were a minority on campuses a quarter-century ago, today make up 57 percent of undergraduates, and the gender gap is projected to reach a 60-40 ratio within a few years. So more women, especially black and Hispanic women, will be in a position to get better-paying, more prestigious jobs than their husbands, which makes for a tricky variation of ''Pride and Prejudice.''

It's still a universal truth, as Jane Austen wrote, that a man with a fortune has good marriage prospects. It's not so universal for a woman with a fortune, because pride makes some men determined to be the chief breadwinner. But these traditionalists seem to be a dwindling minority as men have come to appreciate the value of a wife's paycheck.

A woman's earning power, while hardly the first thing that men look for, has become a bigger draw, as shown in surveys of college students over the decades. In 1996, for the first time, college men rated a potential mate's financial prospects as more important than her skills as a cook or a housekeeper.

In the National Survey of Families and Households conducted during the early 1990's, the average single man under 35 said he was quite willing to marry someone earning much more than he did. He wasn't as interested in marrying someone making much less than he did, and he was especially reluctant to marry a woman who was unlikely to hold a steady job.

Those findings jibe with what I've seen. I can't think of any friend who refused to date a woman because she made more money than he did. When friends have married women with bigger paychecks, the only financial complaints I've heard from them have come when a wife later decided to pursue a more meaningful -- i.e., less lucrative -- career.

Nor can I recall hearing guys insult a man, to his face or behind his back, for making less than his wife. The only snide comments I've heard have come from women talking about their friends' husbands. I've heard just a couple of hardened Manhattanites do that, but I wouldn't dismiss them as isolated reactionaries because you can see this prejudice in that national survey of singles under 35.

The women surveyed were less willing to marry down -- marry someone with much lower earnings or less education -- than the men were to marry up. And, in line with Jane Austen, the women were also more determined to marry up than the men were.

You may think that women's attitudes are changing as they get more college degrees and financial independence. A women who's an executive can afford to marry a struggling musician. But that doesn't necessarily mean she wants to. Studies by David Buss of the University of Texas and others have shown that women with higher incomes, far from relaxing their standards, put more emphasis on a mate's financial resources.

And once they're married, women with higher incomes seem less tolerant of their husbands' shortcomings. Steven Nock of the University of Virginia has found that marriages in which the wife and husband earn roughly the same are more likely to fail than other marriages. That situation doesn't affect the husband's commitment to the marriage, Nock concludes, but it weakens the wife's and makes her more likely to initiate divorce.

It's understandable that women with good paychecks have higher standards for their partners, since their superior intelligence, education and income give them what Buss calls high ''mate value.'' They know they're catches and want to find someone with equal mate value -- someone like Mr. Darcy instead of a dullard like the cleric spurned by Elizabeth Bennet.

''Of course, some women marry for love and find a man's resources irrelevant,'' Buss says. ''It's just that the men women tend to fall in love with, on average, happen to have more resources.''

Which means that, on average, college-educated women and high-school-educated men will have a harder time finding partners as long as educators keep ignoring the gender gap that starts long before college. Advocates for women have been so effective politically that high schools and colleges are still focusing on supposed discrimination against women: the shortage of women in science classes and on sports teams rather than the shortage of men, period. You could think of this as a victory for women's rights, but many of the victors will end up celebrating alone.