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(Todd Warnock/Thinkstock)
(Todd Warnock/Thinkstock)

More women choosing careers … because they can't find a man? Add to ...

Why do so many university-educated women pursue careers while they hold off on having children? It’s because they can’t find a man to marry, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the University of Minnesota.

“Most women don’t realize it, but an important factor in a women’s career choice is how easy or difficult it is to find a husband,” Kristina Durante, assistant professor of marketing at the UTSA College of Business, said in a release. “When a woman’s dating prospects look bleak – as is the case when there are few available men – she is much more likely to delay starting a family and instead seek a career.”

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Exactly how did researchers arrive at this conclusion? First, they found that when you look at the ratio of single men to single women across the United States, what you find is that the percentage of women in high-paying careers increases where bachelors are scarce. Not only is there a greater percentage of career women in those areas, but those women also postponed having children.

In a separate study conducted at colleges, researchers found that women were more motivated to pursue “ambitious careers” when they believed there were fewer men on campus.

“A scarcity of men leads women to invest in their careers because they realize it will be difficult to settle down and start a family,” Vlad Griskevicious, the study’s co-author and an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota, said in the release.

The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

But here’s a wacky idea: Is it possible, just maybe, that more and more women are choosing careers over marriage and babies because they actually want to have careers? I know, crazy, right?

As Forbes contributor J. Maureen Henderson points out, the researchers ignore multiple variables, including historical trends of women entering certain careers, programs that encourage women to enter a range of professions and the fact that, overall, women outnumber men in the labour force.

And then there’s the possibility, just ever so slight, that a job might be valuable in and of itself rather than second prize in the contest to marry and get pregnant.

“Tying career aspirations to not-so-thinly veiled evolutionary biology arguments takes self-actualization out of the mix, disregards that a woman might have 99 good reasons to become a computer programmer (and an inability to hook a man ain’t one) and assumes that our need to be attractive trumps our ambition. Maybe we’ve just figured out that we’re great leaders and want to exploit that?” Ms. Henderson wrote.

Why do you think more women are choosing career over marriage and children?

Follow on Twitter: @Dave_McGinn

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