The Woman in the Gray Flannel Skirt

November 17, 2011 | Danelle

After catching up on news about Occupy Wall Street, the GOP Presidential candidates, and Kim Kardashian’s divorce, I stumbled upon this article entitled “Why more and more intelligent women are being forced to ‘marry down’ and find a less-educated man as females win out at work and school” from the DailyMail.UK.

Being a NeW lady, I was intrigued. In a nut shell, the article talks about the very prominent gap in education between men and women and what the implications of that are sociologically. Certainly, the author is right in pointing out the gap in education. Here at NeW, we are aware of this from reading books on the subject matter such as Kay S. Hymowitz’s Manning Up.

The implications however are a bit different than Hymowitz’s “man-child.” Sociologists in the article hypothesize that boys lagging behind in school could cause men to become the ones who stay at home and women the breadwinners:

It may lead to changes in the pattern of household living, so there are some deep questions here and I think these are questions that, as a society, we should focus on.

Do you think this is true?

I see a huge flaw in this logic: the article is essentially saying that women who stay at home (since that is the traditional gender role) must be uneducated. We all know this is false. Plenty of highly intelligent and educated women stay at home to raise children. One example off the top of my head is Bay Buchanan, former Secretary of Treasury who raised 3 sons after serving in the Reagan Administration. There are many, many more examples.

I also believe that a complete swap in roles will never happen widespread. The hormones in women – estrogen and oxytocin – are at very high levels during and after pregnancy. Oxytocin especially not only induces labor, but it also creates a special emotional bond between the baby and mother since they both synthesize it. Most mothers will willingly stay at home with their child for at least a period of time before going back to work. Males of course feel a special attachment to their child, but it is much easier physically and hormonally/emotionally for them to go back to work immediately after a child is born.

Overall, I think a better prediction is that roles in the family will equal out. Even now, families divide care-taking roles at least to some extent. Rather than strive towards a swap, how about we strive towards balance?

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