Undergraduate women attending Princeton University have plenty of things to worry about. After all, they go to Princeton. Princeton grad Susan Patton (1977) asks these young women to add one more thing to their to do list. Start looking for a husband. That’s right, Patton wants these women to pursue a Mrs. Degree along with the bachelor’s degree they’re seeking in accounting, computer science or whatever else.
Patton wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in the March 29, 2013 edition of The Daily Princetonian in which she encouraged the university’s female students to “find a husband on campus before you graduate.” Patton’s roots her logic in a couple of facts. First, you have to be a pretty smart woman to attend Princeton, and if you want to catch a guy who is your intellectual equal best to hook him now because all these single Princeton ladies will never have as much concentrated male brilliance at their disposal.
Of course, what’s good for the hen is good for the rooster. The men won’t be around a bunch of highly educated women when Princeton’s in their rear view mirror. Patton says that hardly matters because a Princeton man can marry a less educated woman – an option that becomes more viable if the woman is pretty. Female Princetonians can marry a good looking, but less educated man. However, Patton says they shouldn’t. “But ultimately, it will frustrate you to be with a man who just isn’t as smart as you,” she writes.
The obvious problem is that neither the male nor female students may be ready to get married at 22. Lets assume for the sake of argument that male Princetonians are as narcissistic as Patton assumes. Are they going to be ready to marry at 22 or 25 when they know that their elite education and the six figure salary it will command gives them entrée to women for the next six years? These guys know their worth, after all.
The co-eds and their parents know the worth of their college educations. Forty-one years ago, title IX smashed the academic and athletic barriers women faced Forty-one years after. Women attend college to get a degree or a WNBA contract. Do we really think female students and their parents will devalue education by using it solely as a ruse to snag a man? I don’t see it especially when that single lady will still end up being saddled with $250,000 in student loan debt. Besides in an era when women comprise 55 percent of the enrollment on college campuses some women will graduate without one of their male classmates “putting a ring on it.”
These women will not become spinsters. Numerous studies show that Patton’s view is outdated. One of the most complete, a 2010 study by the Council on Contemporary Families shows nearly nine out of 10 women get married by age 40 regardless of education.The study also showed that college educated unmarried women tend to be happier and live longer than any other demographic although college educated married women aren’t exactly miserable. They are happier and less likely to get divorced than their less educated counterparts. Besides, contemporary men value intelligence in a mate.
Why? Because college educated women tend to marry highly educated or at least highly trained men. That removes the main source of marital tension – money. The ratio of men to women in college pretty much assures that some college educated women will marry a less formally educated man. However, the Council on Contemporary Families study shows that college educated women may actually benefit from marrying a man with less education. Why? Because he’s more likely to help with the housework.
For educated black women – a group believed to be consigned to a lifetime by them selves – the numbers belie that myth. Black women who complete college or have some college education are far more likely to marry than African-American women without post-secondary training. I know of at least one black woman, a lawyer and Princeton graduate, who waited until 28 to snag her Harvard educated lawyer. Her name is Michelle Obama. I think she’s doing all right.