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Women Pursue Careers Due to Shortage of Men

April 21, 2012

A new joint study carried out by American and Dutch scientists has found that there is definitely a connection between the availability of men in a given area and the number of ladies who thrive in the workplace.

To make it simpler, the research claims that in those areas where men are scarce, or where there are less eligible bachelors, women are more likely to focus on a professional career and on securing the financial resources. This happens out of fear that they are not attractive enough and that they might not be able to find a husband who could help support their family.

Kristina Durante, assistant professor of marketing at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) College of Business, and one of the study's principal authors, believes that the availability of gentlemen influences women's career choices and aspirations. According to Durante, geographic data demonstrates that there is a strong connection between low numbers of men and a high percentage of women who decided to climb career ladders. Also, the findings showed that women in areas with fewer men postponed having kids longer when compared to their counterparts who were surrounded by men.

The conclusions were made after series of experiments involving college-age women volunteers. The first experiment, called the 'operational sex ratio,' analyzed the number of eligible men in a certain area. After gathering all the required information from all across the United States, the experts found that as the percentage of eligible men in a state dropped, the proportion of women who had highly paid jobs and held big positions increased. In addition to this, the women in those states gave birth to kids at an older age and overall, had fewer children.

In order to make sure that a lack of men was linked to this trend, the scientists further carried out practical tests. These involved showing women fake newspaper articles or photographic images that gave an impression of a higher concentration of a particular gender in an area. The women were then quizzed about what was more important in their lives - career or family.

The results revealed that those women who read articles suggesting fewer men in the area, reported that their marriage options were lower and showed high interest in career opportunities, whereas those who were led to believe that there were more men than women in an area, tended to be less interested in having a career. However, when asked, women did not believe that lack of men would result in more job openings. Instead, they said that there probably would be more competition to find a husband.

Vlad Griskevicius, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, and a co-author of the study, said that a shortage of men leads women to opt for a briefcase because they understand how hard it will be to find a husband and settle down. In fact, Griskevicius added, the strongest effects were found for those ladies who were least likely to "secure a mate."

The experts said that their new results highlight a sexual paradox that is associated with women's educational and financial advancement. In particular, as women pursue further education and better career opportunities when they cannot find a perfect man and start a family, it will only get harder for them to get married as women become more educated, financially secure and independent. As a result, a woman's mating standards increase and the number of suitable candidates significantly drops. More than ever before, modern women have to make tough decisions among which is choosing a career over family and children.

The results of the research are published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Tags: Career & Money