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Marriage Thread Off Single Ladies Face. by Dfinex(f): 7:00pm On Aug 03, 2017
When placed in all-female groups, 68% of single women reported that they would prefer a job that paid a higher salary and required 55–60 hours of work per week to a job that paid a lower salary and required 45–50 hours per week. But when placed with male peers, only 42% of single women did so. Similarly, in all-female groups, 79% of single women reported preferring a job with quicker promotion to partner but substantial travel to a job with slower and less certain promotion but no travel. When placed with male peers, only 37% of single women chose that option. Moreover, single women were less likely to choose the career-focused option when there were more single men in the group. Single women’s answers to a placebo choice between a job with a positive social impact and a job with collegial coworkers were not affected by the gender of the students in their group.

Lastly, we conducted a student survey and an analysis of participation grades. Our survey asked 261 of these same first-year MBA students whether, in their previous work experience, they had avoided certain actions that they thought would help their careers, because they were concerned it would make them look “too ambitious, assertive, or pushy.” Sixty-four percent of single females said they had avoided asking for a raise or a promotion for that reason, compared with 39% of women who were married or in a serious relationship and 27% of men. Over half of single women reported avoiding speaking up in meetings, compared with approximately 30% of women who weren’t single women and men.

Our analysis of participation grades indicated that unmarried female students had substantially lower class participation grades than married ones. Class participation is observable to peers and may signal students’ ambition or assertiveness. Consistent with our hypothesis, male participation grades did not differ by marital status.

Many of our additional analyses suggest these differences in behavior between single women and women in relationships are likely driven by the marriage market concerns, not inherent differences between the two groups of women. For example, it is not the case that unmarried women, in general, are worse students than married women; both groups had similar grades on their exams and problem sets (grades that classmates can’t see). Similarly, relationship status did not affect women’s reported preferences and skills when they were kept private from classmates.

Taken together, our results suggest that single women avoid actions that would help their careers because of marriage considerations, and that marriage considerations may be an additional explanation for gender differences in the labor market. Many schooling and initial career decisions, such as whether to take advanced math in high school, major in engineering, or become an entrepreneur, occur early in life, when most women are single. These decisions can have labor market consequences with long-lasting effects.

While extrapolating to other settings is beyond the scope of this paper, elite female MBA students are a select group, one that presumably places a higher value on career success than the general female population does. This suggests that the effects of marriage market signaling are perhaps even larger in other contexts. We hope that future work will assess interventions that may mitigate the negative effects that marriage market concerns have on women’s careers.

Excerpts from an article in Harvard business review :https://hbr.org/2017/05/the-ambition-marriage-trade-off-too-many-single-women-face

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