Bringin' home the bacon, but no boyfriend

High-earning women are having trouble dating down, reports the Times.

By Tracy Clark-Flory
Published September 25, 2007 3:30AM (UTC)
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Remember a few months back when Time Out featured Broadzilla on its cover, next to the headline "Attack of the Single Women"? That cover story has been repackaged into a New York Times Style feature ... oh, goodie!

The Times reports: "For the first time, women in their 20s who work full time in several American cities -- New York, Chicago, Boston and Minneapolis -- are earning higher wages than men in the same age range, according to a recent analysis of 2005 census data ... 53 percent of women employed full time in their 20s were college graduates, compared with 38 percent of men." Nice work, ladies!

Or not. The Times warns against being deceived by the allure of financial independence and purchasing power -- it's a Trojan Horse! A recent analysis of Census data is folded into a two-page trend piece illustrating how a high-powered job spells disaster for a woman's dating life. Why? Apparently, men are intimidated by women who make more money than they do. "Women are encountering forms of hostility they weren't prepared to meet, and are trying to figure out how to balance pride in their accomplishments against their perceived need to bolster the egos of the men they date," writes the Times' Alex Williams.

So, either stop that career climb or risk becoming a well-heeled spinster with 12 cats, clothed in Prada. I'd imagine pay disparity in a relationship could very well spell disaster for some couples. But the article presents some odd evidence of this trend -- take the high-earning woman who wanted to frequent the hottest restaurants in town but couldn't because her boyfriend, who worked "creative jobs," preferred cheaper diner food. Or, consider the example of 25-year-old Jade Wannell, a producer at an ad agency who started dating an administrator at a trucking company who worked until 3 a.m. and had one hobby: bar-hopping. It's no wonder that didn't work out! Might this be more an issue of clashing interests and lifestyles?

It's also problematic that the article conflates a high salary with passion. Wannell says, straight out: "It wasn't the job, it was the passion." In other words: It wasn't an issue of pay disparity but personality disparity! On the Daily Shvitz, Izzy Grinspan highlights this snag:

"[T]his article completely refuses to acknowledge that there's a difference between working hard and making money, as if any guy who's passionate about what he does will surely be healthily compensated for, you know, pursuing his dreams (and thereby that any guy who's unsuitably broke is clearly a slacker who just isn't trying hard enough.)"

At least one survey, which the Times actually cites, has shown that college women, upon graduation, overwhelmingly say they would prefer to marry a high school teacher who would act as a dedicated father than a high-earning surgeon with little time for family. The point being that "young professionally oriented women have no problem dating down if the man is secure, motivated in his own field and emotionally supportive," reports the Times. But plenty of women also have those basic requirements for dating up ... or dating someone at all. What's the story here?

Tracy Clark-Flory

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