“Don’t Marry Career Women” by Micheal Noer
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“Point: Don't Marry Career Women
By Michael Noer
How do women, careers and marriage mix? Not well, say social scientists. Guys: a word of advice. Marry pretty women or ugly ones. Short ones or tall ones. Blondes or brunettes. Just, whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career. Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage. While everyone knows that marriage can be stressful, recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat and less likely to have children. And if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it. A recent study in Social Forces, a research journal, found that women--even those with a "feminist" outlook--are happier when their husband is the primary breadwinner.
Not happy conclusions, especially given that many men, particularly successful men, are attracted to women with similar goals and aspirations. And why not? After all, your typical career girl is well educated, ambitious, informed and engaged. All seemingly good things, right? Sure … at least until you get married. Then, to put it bluntly, the more successful she is, the more likely she is to grow dissatisfied with you. Sound familiar?
Many factors contribute to a stable marriage, including the marital status of your spouse's parents (folks with divorced parents are significantly more likely to get divorced themselves), age at first marriage, race, religious beliefs and socio-economic status. And, of course, many working women are indeed happily and fruitfully married--it's just that they are less likely to be so than nonworking women. And that, statistically speaking, is the rub.
To be clear, we're not talking about a high school dropout minding a cash register. For our purposes, a "career girl" has a university-level (or higher) education, works more than 35 hours a week outside the home and makes more than $30,000 a year.
If a host of studies are to be believed, marrying these women is asking for trouble. If they quit their jobs and stay home with the kids, they will be unhappy (Journal of Marriage and Family, 2003). They will be unhappy if they make more money than you do (Social Forces, 2006). You will be unhappy if they make more money than you do (Journal of Marriage and Family, 2001). You will be more likely to fall ill (American Journal of Sociology). Even your house will be dirtier (Institute for Social Research).
Why? Well, despite the fact that the link between work, women and divorce rates is complex and controversial, much of the reasoning is based on a lot of economic theory and a bit of common sense. In classic economics, a marriage is, at least in part, an exercise in labor specialization. Traditionally, men have tended to do "market" or paid work outside the home, and women have tended to do "nonmarket" or household work, including raising children. All of the work must get done by somebody, and this pairing, regardless of who is in the home and who is outside the home, accomplishes that goal. Nobel laureate Gary S. Becker argued that when the labor specialization in a marriage decreases--if, for example, both spouses have careers--the overall value of the marriage is lower for both partners because less of the total needed work is getting done, making life harder for 2
both partners and divorce more likely. And, indeed, empirical studies have concluded just that. In 2004, John H. Johnson examined data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation and concluded that gender has a significant influence on the relationship between work hours and increases in the probability of divorce. Women's work hours consistently increase divorce, whereas increases in men's work hours often have no statistical effect. "I also find that the incidence in divorce is far higher in couples where both spouses are working than in couples where only one spouse is employed," Johnson says. A few other studies, which have focused on employment (as opposed to working hours), have concluded that working outside the home actually increases marital stability, at least when the marriage is a happy one. But even in these studies, wives' employment does correlate positively to divorce rates, when the marriage is of "low marital quality." The other reason a career can hurt a marriage will be obvious to anyone who has seen his or her mate run off with a co-worker: When your spouse works outside the home, chances increase that he or she will meet someone more likable than you. "The work environment provides a host of potential partners," researcher Adrian J. Blow reported in The Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, "and individuals frequently find themselves spending a great deal of time with these individuals." There's more: According to a wide-ranging review of the published literature, highly educated people are more likely to have had extramarital sex (those with graduate degrees are 1.75 times more likely to have cheated than those with high school diplomas). Additionally, individuals who earn more than $30,000 a year are more likely to cheat.
And if the cheating leads to divorce, you're really in trouble. Divorce has been positively correlated with higher rates of alcoholism, clinical depression and suicide. Other studies have associated divorce with increased rates of cancer, stroke, and sexually transmitted disease. Plus, divorce is financially devastating. According to one recent study on "Marriage and Divorce's Impact on Wealth," published in The Journal of Sociology, divorced people see their overall net worth drop an average of 77%. So why not just stay single? Because, academically speaking, a solid marriage has a host of benefits beyond just individual "happiness." There are broader social and health implications as well. According to a 2004 paper titled "What Do Social Scientists Know About the Benefits of Marriage?," marriage is positively associated with "better outcomes for children under most circumstances" and higher earnings for adult men, and "being married and being in a satisfying marriage are positively associated with health and negatively associated with mortality." In other words, a good marriage is associated with a higher income, a longer, healthier life and better-adjusted kids. A word of caution, though: As with any social scientific study, it's important not to confuse correlation with causation. In other words, just because married folks are healthier than single people, it doesn't mean that marriage is causing the health gains. It could just be that healthier people are more likely to be married.”1
Comparison between man and woman has always been a big topic in human history. Mostly, the importance of a woman was not as high as a man’s. Fortunately, this idea has changed a lot until today. Women have received more rights and they are now almost everywhere, where a man could be. This does not mean that the fight has ended though. This subject is still very popular and we will go on discussing the roles of men and women in society until the end of time. Michael Noer, the executive news editor of the Forbes magazine, published an editorial in August 2006, which caused huge anger and many discussions. This editorial is titled Don’t Marry Career Women and it has been removed just after a few hours because a lot of people, particularly women, considered it to be quite sexist and felt offended. The Forbes magazine decided to republish the article with an opposite text called Don’t Marry a Lazy Man and also created a forum for the readers to discuss this subject.2
Based on different statistics, Michael Noer tries to prove that for an eternal marriage you can marry any kind of woman but a career woman. The point he wants to make is that the women with a career are already overwhelmed with their stressful job, so that they cannot cope with the stress of household and children at home. He mentions many other points in order to warn men from an unhealthy marriage with a successful career woman.
The approach: purely analytical or more instinctive?
In his text, Michael Noer alludes to a lot of different studies which show that career women have many difficulties in their marriages. Since his arguments always refer to these statistics, the text is quite analytical in general. However, there is no detailed information about these studies mentioned in the text. We do not know how many people were asked, how long the studies took, etcetera. Furthermore, if Michael Noer did not share the same idea, he would not have written about it. That is why it is very likely that the instinctive approach was also rather present.
Examples of different kinds of reasoning
1) Deductive reasoning:
P1: Successful men are attracted to women with similar goals and aspirations. P2: Career women are well educated, ambitious and informed.
Conclusion: Successful men are naturally attracted to career women.
This argument is a categorical syllogism and its structure is correct, which means that it is valid. Nevertheless, we do not know if every single successful man is attracted to an educated woman. This 2
depends a lot on the different kind of personal preference. It is also not certain that all career women are well educated. There are other ways to be successful, too. In conclusion, although the structure of the argument is correct, the premises can be challenged. That is why the argument is uncogent and not sound in every situation.
2) Causal reasoning(inductive):
P1: In classic economics, a marriage is an exercise in labor specialization. P2: When both spouses have career, the labor specialization in the marriage decreases and the less of the needed work is getting done.
Conclusion: When both spouses have career, the marriage will not work and they will get divorced.
The first premise is strong, because it is a known theory in classic economics. The second premise is based on general experience, but there could be couples who work and do their work at home at the same time without problem. Thus, P2 is quite weak and that leads to an uncogent argument.
Example of an assumption present in the text
P1: The aim of a marriage is to have an everlasting relationship, to be faithful und to have children. P2: Career women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat and less likely to have children.
Conclusion: If you want a stable marriage, do not marry a career woman. The first premise of this argument is a value assumption which is present in a lot of arguments of the whole text. It is true that the traditional meaning of marriage is a promise for an eternal love and creation of a family with children. Despite that, we need to consider that the time changed a lot people’s expectations and thoughts of marriage. So nowadays this idea can really be challenged. The best way to do it is to ask questions like:
Is it not possible to consider a marriage without children a real one? Should someone who was cheated by her/his husband/wife get divorced immediately? …
Strength and weakness of the text
The author focuses in general on the woman’s contribution in a marriage but he does not forget to mention other points which play a role. For example:
“Many factors contribute to a stable marriage, including the marital status of your spouse's parents (folks with divorced parents are significantly more likely to get divorced themselves), age at first marriage, race, religious beliefs and socio-economic status.” He also brings up a contra point, even though it is just a single and small one: “A few other studies, which have focused on employment (as opposed to working hours), have concluded that working outside the home actually increases marital stability, […]”
The author refers to studies and scientist all over the text. The problem is that we often do not know what kind of studies he is talking about. For example:
“Because if many social scientists are to be believed, [...]” “If a host of studies are to be believed, […]”
“A few other studies, […]”
“Other studies have associated divorce with increased rates of cancer , […]” “Because, academically speaking, […]”
When he mentions the source of the studies, like “Journal of Marriage and Family”, he is talking about information from 3 or even 5 years ago (2003/2001). In addition, we do not know anything in detail like number of participants or the aim of the research. That is why he cannot really make us share his opinion; his information is not convincing enough.
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