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8 May 2008
Men DO Marry Their Mothers
by George Atkinson

Whether a man's mother went to college and pursued her own career seems to affect what sort of woman the man chooses for a wife, according to Christine Whelan, author of a new book entitled Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women. She says that high-achieving men (those who earn salaries in the top 10 percent for their age and/or have a graduate degree) are highly likely to marry a woman whose education level mirrors their mom's.

Whelan's research showed that nearly 80 percent of the high-achieving men whose mothers had college degrees married women with college degrees, and 19 percent of them married women with graduate degrees. Sixty-eight percent of high-achieving men agreed with the statement, "Smart women make better mothers."

"Successful men in their 20s and 30s today are the sons of a pioneering generation of high-achieving career women. Their mothers serve as role models for how a woman can be nurturing and successful at the same time," said Whelan, a University of Iowa sociologist. "One man I interviewed put it like this: 'If your mother is a success, you don't have any ideas of success and family that exclude a woman from working.' This Mother's Day, I think we should thank those moms for leading the way toward gender equality for a younger generation."

The study reinforces previous research in the field: "Younger men are much more egalitarian about marriage in general. They grew up with working mothers. Fifty-four million women work and an awful lot of those women are mothers. Their sons aren't looking for Leave It to Beaver in their own house," said researcher Randi Minetor, author of Breadwinner Wives and the Men They Marry.

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Source: University of Iowa Health Sciences

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