Earlier this week I was reading an article in a Canadian women’s magazine, mostly because the headline caught my attention. It was about how to select a husband if you have career plans and what qualities he should have in order for you to reach your career goals.
Now, being someone with more than a few stellar ideas on what I want to be when I grow up, the idea of a career-matching spouse was intriguing. At the same time, I’ve never been one to follow any stereotypes, so it equally appealed to my cynical side.
Personally, my relationship and marriage goals far outweigh my career goals. Yes, I would love to have this magnificent career with bucket loads of cash at my feet, but I may be among the few who would sacrifice those for an equally magnificent relationship built on respect, love and adventure. I think our society has reached a point where the pursuit of status and equity has eclipsed all the other wonders that surround us.
And as such, the article, published by Chatelaine, begins with comparing a career-supporting husband to that of a reliable Internet connection: a necessity in the modern world. It then continues with a recommendation that women select someone with little motivation…
Career women take note: if you want to continue to ascend the corporate ladder all the while maintaining a happy-ish household it may be wise to choose a partner with lesser ambition or a less demanding work schedule, or so suggests a study by a Cornell researcher.
After analyzing census data from more than 8,484 professional workers and 17,648 nonprofessional workers from dual-earner families in the U.S., sociology researcher, Youngjoo Cha discovered that there's a potentially negative association between how many hours a man works per week and its effect on the career choices of his female partner.
In the 2010 paper "Reinforcing Separate Spheres: The Effect of Spousal Overwork on Men's and Women's Employment in Dual-Earner Households," Cha concludes that being married to a man who works 60 hours a week and more makes a woman more likely to quit her job. In fact, it increases her odds by 42 per cent. (For women in professional positions, that risk goes up to 51 per cent.)
OK, so there is a hint of validity in the argument. Anyone in a relationship – marriage, common law, dating – that clocks an excessive amount of work hours is going to place a greater amount of stress on the partnership. If your mind and focus is that distracted, you’re probably not all that into creating a sexsessful relationship anyway. Your priorities have been established and they are material-bound.
But to suggest that women choose husbands based on having less ambition floored me. One of first thoughts was, if I pick a guy with less ambition than me, how can I expect him to have the ambition to support me and our household by assuming the lion’s share of the housework while I’m playing “Office?” If he’s already just not that into “work” … well, I can’t see him jumping all over the mundane either.
I’m reaching, of course. But the idea makes for a good argument. As a young and ambitious career woman, I should choose a layabout as a spouse just so the cooking and chores can be done? Or quit my job just so I can stay home and do some laundry? Shall I ask him to buy me some June Cleaver pearls?
Not buying it. I would rather find a partner that is aggressively supportive of our dreams together – career, family and personal – than open up a first date with “So, how ambitious are you really?”
Ambitious enough to enjoy a little fun, anyway.