What I have long anecdotally observed and suspected, alas, turned out to be statistically true: our friends at Jane Dough broke the news that marrying a high-earning man might damage a woman’s earning potential.
Harvard economists studied the long term earnings of University of Chicago MBAs and found that earnings gap between men and women were significant and increased over time, largely because women take time off from work to have children. But as if that were not enough, they also discovered that women who married high-earners experienced an even greater income gap than those women who married lower-earning men. This makes the recent controversial op-ed by Susan Patton, who urged Princeton girls to find their husbands during college, sound even more disheartening and cringe-inducing.
This presents such a grim picture, not least because I see the evidence of this in real life. Some of my friends are married to incredibly successful men, and when it came to raising the children, there was no question of who would sacrifice professional time. But even if full- or part-time work “doesn’t make sense” financially for these wealthy wives, I wonder whether their emotional satisfaction and intellectual fulfillment would not have made it worthwhile. And happy motherhood and fulfilling work are not mutually exclusive–as my mother showed me by raising us while working full-time as a teacher.
Fortunately, I don’t have a rich husband to whom my work means nothing but peanuts–I need to make money for our relationship to thrive, and that actually makes me happy. I would not knock any man for being too rich, but even if I fell in love with and married a billionaire, I would never lose the desire or the moral need to work, and to succeed. Here’s hoping that this attitude will serve me well in life–and not hurt my future earning potential, should my boyfriend become as successful as I wish him to be.