Does the Growing Gender Imbalance in Education Impact Dating Lives?

Is, as a controversial Wall Street Journal column asserts, "a good man getting even harder to find"?

A graduate holding flowers attends the graduation ceremony of Wuhan University with her wife and child on June 22, 2018 in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China. Over 15,000 undergraduates, master and doctoral graduates took part in the commencement ceremony of Wuhan University in the rain on Friday. (Photo by Zhang Chang/China News Service/Visual China Group via Getty Images)
A graduate holding flowers attends the graduation ceremony of Wuhan University with her wife and child on June 22, 2018 in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China. Over 15,000 undergraduates, master and doctoral graduates took part in the commencement ceremony of Wuhan University in the rain on Friday. (Photo by Zhang Chang/China News Service/Visual China Group via Getty Images)
By Bonnie Stiernberg / October 7, 2019 10:14 am

As a controversial recent column by the Wall Street Journal‘s Gerard Baker points out, the gender imbalance in higher education is continuing to grow, with 57 percent of the class of 2018 who graduated with a bachelor’s degree and 59 percent who graduated with a master’s degree identifying as female. The Department of Education projects that by 2027, women will account for 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees. But should women be concerned about what the growing education gap means for their dating lives? Baker seems to think so.

“Most studies of human heterosexual attraction suggest both that intellectual capacity and achievement is an important attractor and that people tend to gravitate toward a partner with roughly the same level of attainment,” he writes. “But every year, the pool of eligible male graduates is getting smaller relative to the number of women. Now of course college isn’t everything, and many women will find a perfect mate who hasn’t been through the four-year playground of parties, sleeping and the occasional lecture. But the reality is that more of them are going to have to if they want a meaningful relationship.”

Or — and here’s an idea — maybe some men will have to stop being intimidated by educated women? Is it possible that as women gain access to education and financial independence, they come to realize they don’t need a relationship to feel fulfilled? And that idea that “people tend to gravitate toward a partner with roughly the same level of attainment” — if that were completely true, there’d be no such thing as a “trophy wife” or the Real Housewives franchise.

Baker also cites some data from dating app Hinge that suggests women are slightly pickier than men and draws the conclusion that “a much smaller number of men are considered eligible by women than is the case for women as viewed by men.” Of course, that ignores the fact that women might be pickier because they often have to navigate a sea of creeps on apps — some of whom wind up murdering them.

Baker caught some heat on Twitter after posting the column, refreshingly from both men and women who seemed to realize that if your dating life is dependent upon your partner being uneducated, ultimately that’s a you problem.

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