Women Can Have a Graduate Degree or Love, but Not Both?

Back at the end of December, the New York Times ran an article on women and post-graduate education. The piece, written by Catherine Rampell and entitled “Instead of Work, Younger Women Head to School,” offered me no new news — effectively, all of my female friends have gone on to receive/pursue Masters, Doctorates, or their equivalents within the 5 years since we graduated college, while only two of my male friends has decided to return to school for an advanced degree outside of the medical variety.

My MA degree represents more than more schooling -- it represents cultivated interests.

The article presented some interesting statistics but some pretty traditional explanations for the reasons why, in this particular economic climate, women might be more inclined to return to school than men.

Moments after skimming the piece, I got an email from Columbia’s Art History Department announcing a post-doc program at Duke. The following line was bolded in red:

Particular focus is on fields in which women and minorities are under-represented.

In all the studies Ms. Rampell cited, she forgot to look at the number of scholarships/grants set aside specifically to serve women who choose to pursue education beyond the college level.

I’m not going to find the numbers for you. You’re a grown up. You can google. I have bigger fish to fry…

The day after the article ran, I got an email from a friend pointing me to a Gwaker response:

“Women be schooling! [Pause for laughter.]…Which, ironically, only isolates them further from the majority of men in the dating pool, leaving them to fight over the relatively scarce (and concomitantly self-entitled) educated men of their age.”

I wish Mr. Gwaker was wrong, but here’s thing:

A graduate degree represents more than a few more years of schooling. It represents cultivated interests and a self-awareness of what things, beyond shelter, food and an income, are really important to you.

Once upon a time, I may have been happy with a Hendrix-loving sporty type, but now, I need someone who enjoys spending afternoons here too.

Mr. Gwaker, like the woman who told me “you’ll never find a husband, half the men aren’t good enough for you, the other half will think you’re too good for them,” you’re tragically onto something.

When I graduated from college, I would have been content saying “I do” to a sporty Wall Street type with a dog and a predilection for striped shirts and Jimi Hendrix. An MA, PhD application, and several curating attempts later, I realize he also needs to enjoy museum-going and have the “intellectual bandwidth” to discuss the merits of Braque vs. Picasso over coffee shortly there after.

The dating pool is a lot smaller for me than it was a few years ago.

So yes, splashing around in the dating pool is harder for me now than it was 4  years ago. It’s a tall order to ask for a literary, sporty, artsy, humorous, dog-loving outdoorsman with good taste in music, a joy for cooking, a sophisticated sense of style and a stable career… who likes you back.

But I’m reasonably optimistic… mostly, because I know that if all else fails, I’ve at least got my glorious gaggle of fellow over-educated females who’ll join me at MoMA for the Diego Rivera murals.

Take that, Mr. Gawker.