What Women Want

October 19, 2009 | NeW Staff

Remember the Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt movie, What Women Want, that came out in 2000Nine years later, TIME Magazine has a story out, What Women Want NowThe TIME Magazine cover this week reads, Special Report, The State of the American Woman: A new poll shows why they are more powerful–but less happy.

What Women Want Now highlights some of the successes of women,

“So it’s worth stopping to look at what happened while we were busy ending the Cold War and building a multicultural society and enjoying the longest economic expansion in history. In the slow-motion fumblings of family life, it was easy just to keep going along, mark the milestones, measure the kids on the kitchen door and miss the movement. In 1972 only 7% of students playing high school sports were girls; now the number is six times as high. The female dropout rate has fallen in half. College campuses used to be almost 60-40 male; now the ratio has reversed, and close to half of law and medical degrees go to women, up from fewer than 10% in 1970. Half the Ivy League presidents are women, and two of the three network anchors soon will be; three of the four most recent Secretaries of State have been women. There are more than 145 foundations designed to empower women around the world, in the belief that this is the greatest possible weapon against poverty and disease; there was only one major foundation (the Ms. Foundation) for women in 1972. For the first time, five women have won Nobel Prizes in the same year (for Medicine, Chemistry, Economics and Literature). We just came through an election year in which Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, Tina Fey and Katie Couric were lead players, not the supporting cast. And the President of the United States was raised by a single mother and married a lawyer who outranked and outearned him.”

It also reports on family life,

“Especially in the absence of social supports, flexible work arrangements and affordable child care, it’s hardly surprising that a majority of both men and women still say it is best for children to have a father working and a mother at home. Among the most dramatic changes in the past generation is the detachment of marriage and motherhood; more men than women identified marriage as ‘very important’ to their happiness. Women no longer view matrimony as a necessary station on the road to financial security or parenthood. The percentage of children born to single women has leaped from 12% to 39%. Whereas a majority of children in the mid-1970s were raised by a stay-at-home parent, the portion is now less than a third, and nearly two-thirds of people say this has been a negative for American society.”

The numbers are interesting, but I would like to see a lot more exploration of this topic.  This story left me with more questions than answers.  For example, do more women want to stay at home to raise their children or, alternatively, do more women want to join the work force?  What draws women to certain careers and away from others?  Is it necessarily bad that women dominate some fields and participate in lower numbers in other fields?

The Special Report addresses these questions and more through statistics, interviews and opinion columns.

What do you think women really want?

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