Smart Women Marry Too!

Jasbina Ahluwalia asks Dr. Christine B. Whelan, author of Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women: I love that. That very much resonates what I hear from the men that I work with. In your book, you use the term “SWANS” as describing a historic shift. It would be great to set the context for our listeners if you could explain this term and the historic shift that you mentioned in your book.



Dr. Christine Whelan

Smart Women Marry Too: No More Negativity

For all the smart women out there, you’re sick of being labeled as all sorts of negative terms if you’re single and over the age of 25. That’s when it began in my life.

I was looking for a term of empowerment and a positive term to give to all of those smart, successful women out there.

SWANS: Smart Women Marry Too

I came up with the acronym SWANS. That stands for “strong women achievers, no spouse.”

What I loved about the acronym SWANS was that it works really well on several levels.

Swans, the birds, sail alone for the first third of their lives, but when they mate, they mate for life.

Swans are these beautiful, graceful birds. I thought it would be a nice term of empowerment.

When I started talking to all the young women when I was publicizing my book, it was so wonderful to see their faces light up at the idea of being called something other than a spinster or some other really negative term.

For all the smart women out there, think of yourselves as SWANS, strong women achievers, no spouse.

Part of the idea of SWANS is to shatter this idea of the success myth.

Successful and Smart Women Marry

The success myth is that, the more successful you are in your education and career, the less successful you will be in your personal life. Academic researchers often call it the “success penalty.”

The way these terms came about is from, an unfortunate fact, our mother’s and grandmother’s generation.

1980s: Smart Women Marry Too

Even up until the 1980 census, it was true that a woman who had a college education plus some graduate education was significantly less likely to get married and have children than a woman with less education.

Starting in the 1980s, things started to change rapidly. When I mentioned Maureen Dowd’s column, she is in her 50s or early 60s. She is part of that old generation.

For the women who are young and single now, education is a bonus. The success myth is really a myth. It is a thing of the past.

When your grandmother and mother give you all sorts of well-meaning advice about how you have to get married immediately and that you’re an old maid at 25, that was their generation.

This generation of young women is playing by a completely different set of rules. That’s the really terrific news for all the young, single women out there.


Jasbina Ahluwalia

The Change: Smart Women Marry Too

When you talk about a historic shift, this is what you’re speaking of in terms of this change in the 80s.


Dr. Christine Whelan

Yes. It changed slowly over time. So much so that we didn’t even really recognize it for a while.

When I was in graduate school studying these trends, I was looking at data from the 80s and 90s.

My advisor was telling me, “Look, high achieving women are less likely to get married.” I was nodding and looking at the numbers.

Today: Smart Women Marry Too

You can imagine my surprise when, in 2005, I started looking at the data. I realized that, not only did smart, successful women reach parity in terms of marriage rates, but they began to exceed the marriage rates of less-educated women. This started around 2000.

For women who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s now, it is particularly good news.

First Generation Where Smart Women Marry Too

We’re the first generation where men are saying, “We don’t want a subordinate woman. We want to volley with an equal. We want someone we can talk to who will be our life partner.”

I have heard that from all the men that I interviewed. I didn’t just do statistical research for this book.

I interviewed more than 100 high-achieving men and women in depth. I got their whole life story. This is what I heard from the men in the interviews and in the surveys.

I’m a college professor now. I run these mate preference studies on college students to find out what young men and women are looking for in a mate.

New Trend: Smart Women Marry Too

We can see that, over several decades, young men are prioritizing, more so than ever before, a woman’s educational background, her intelligence and her ability to earn a good income. ‘

All of these things that your mom and grandmom told you were going to be negative are positives in today’s dating market.


Tell Us:

Smart women marry too, are you an educated female with a spouse on your arm? How did you meet your partner? Share with us in the comments section.


The above is an excerpt from Jasbina’s interview with Dr. Christine Whelan

The entire interview transcript is at: Dr. Christine Whelan Interview – Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women

Listen to the entire interview on: Intersections Match Talk Radio – Jasbina’s Lifestyle Show

Listen to the entire interview on Blog Talk Radio: Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women

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