Forget ambition, financial security and that first-class degree.
A controversial study has concluded that the real reason women pursue careers is because they fear they are too unattractive to get married.
The research team, made up of three women and two men, said that when men are thin on the ground, ‘women are more likely to choose briefcase over baby’.
And the plainer a woman is, they claim, the more she is driven to succeed in the workplace.
Central to their argument was the idea that women have evolved to become homemakers and men, providers.
They said this means that when men are scarce in a particular area, women, and particularly less attractive ladies, may decide they need to provide for themselves with a well-paid career.
The researchers carried out several experiments to come up with their startling argument.
The first looked at the number of eligible men in an area, which they called the ‘operational sex ratio’.
After collecting data from across the U.S., they found that as the number of eligible men in a state decreased, the proportion of women in highly paid careers rose.
In addition, the women who became mothers in those states did so at an older age and had fewer children.
To prove that a lack of men was behind the trend, the researchers then carried out practical experiments.
These involved showing women newspaper articles or photos that gave different impressions of the sex ratio in an area and then quizzing them about which was more important – work or family. When they were led to believe that men were scarce, they were more likely to prioritise career over family.
However, when questioned, the women didn’t believe the shortage of men would lead to more job openings for women. Instead they thought there would be more competition to find a husband.
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