The New Zealand Herald asks what, if anything, can be done about a new social problem:
A shortage of men that well-educated women want to marry? . . .
Among people in the 30-34 age bracket with a university degree or similar qualification, there are 155 women for every 100 men. That would be less of a problem if the women were more willing to “marry down”. The overall ratio is 91 men to 100 women in the population aged 25-49.
But women are perhaps less inclined than men to marry someone not as well educated, which may add to the shortage of partners for intelligent women. . .
Women of that age are the first generation to have been brought up by mothers who almost certainly had at least part-time paid work.
They are more likely than their mothers and certainly grandmothers to have been encouraged into tertiary education and to have fulfilling careers that wouldn’t stop when they married and which they could continue, at least part-time, when they had children.
That doesn’t necessarily make them smarter than their mothers or fathers, nor does it necessarily make them smarter than their contemporaries, male or female, who don’t go to university.
Whether or not, as some argue, education has become more feminised which makes it easier for girls and women to succeed than boys and men, academic qualifications aren’t the only measure of smart.
Education is good but more formal education isn’t necessarily better for everyone.
Earning power isn’t the only measure of smart either. But someone who straight to university could take years to, and might never, make up for the lost wealth that others who go straight into work can accrue while their contemporaries are studying.
The solution is not, as one dating agency suggests, for women to lower their expectations. They should, of course, keep an open mind when they meet someone but it would be idle to pretend that these things are of no account. The solution, as the researchers suggest, is to raise the numbers of men in higher education.
The gender imbalance among 30-somethings with degrees is exactly the same problem that began to be noticed in secondary schools 15-20 years ago. A number of teachers noticed boys were being overshadowed by girls in class work and results. The problem was denied by educational research at that time, perhaps because the observers put it down to new modes of teaching and group-learning that suited girls more than teenage boys.
Nothing has been done about it and it should be no surprise that women now comprise 60 per cent of tertiary graduates. Women have taken their rightful place in many professions, if not yet reaching the top in fair numbers. They are no longer denied the opportunity to reach their educational potential and society is better for their participation.
The failure of men to foot it with them educationally in equal numbers is no reason to change the education system or promote men undeservedly. The shortage of partners for highly educated women is a problem only men can solve. Get your credentials, boys.
Moving quickly past the question of whether the education system has changed to favour females and whether women have been promoted undeservedly. . .
Being academic equals might do it for some couples, but it takes a lot more to making a strong and enduring marriage than that.
In real life few marry and live happily ever after. A strong and enduring marriage requires a whole lot more from both partners than can be measured by an academic qualification.