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Are Women from Top Universities More Interested in ‘MRS.’ Degrees than Careers?

Retro housewife

Is this the goal of a four-year degree to some?

There’s been chatter lately about whether women should work to “snag” a husband while still in college — especially at exclusive schools like Princeton — and as it turns out, women from some of the nation’s top universities might be doing just that — and not much else — with their elite degrees.

According to the New York Daily News, married women from some of the best schools who take time off from work after having babies are less likely to return to full-time jobs. Joni Hersch, a professor of economics and law at Vanderbilt University, wrote a research paper, “Opting Out among Women with Elite Education,” in which she revealed that the employment rate for married moms with children from selective colleges is 68 percent compared to 76 percent for those from less selective schools.

For the study, Hersch looked at 33,307 married women, ages 21-54, with children under the age of 18.

“The dominant view is that corporations are so inflexible that it is impossible to have a work-family balance. That’s widely assumed but not really proven,” she said.

She said she thinks women at top schools likely have “preferred occupational choices [and] should be able to find the jobs that suit their preferences for a work-family balance.

She thinks that women from top schools are more likely to be married to men who have “higher earnings potential” in addition to being more likely to come from “financially privileged backgrounds.” Also, students from well-off families are less likely to be burdened with student loans, and therefore less likely need to work.

Hersh talks about “heterogeneity in preferences” at elite schools, which is where some will attend the best schools no matter what they plan to do after they graduate.

She embarked on the study three years ago when she said she kept meeting well-educated women with advantages at their fingertips who did not have jobs.

“I was surprised by how many stories I was hearing about women who got their law degrees from a top five law school but were not working as lawyers. They were stay at home moms and not planning to return to work,” she said.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

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