The Mating Crisis Among Educated Women

David Buss at Edge:

Every year, more women than men become college-educated. The disparity is already prevalent across North America and Europe, and the trend is beginning to spread across the world more widely. At the University of Texas at Austin where I teach, the sex ratio is 54 percent women to 46 percent men. This imbalance may not seem large at first blush. But when you do the math it translates into a hefty 17 percent more women than men in the local mating pool. Speculations about reasons range widely. They include the gradual removal of gender discrimination barriers and women’s higher levels of conscientiousness (relative to men’s) that translate into better grades and superior college app qualifications. Whatever the causes turn out to be, the disparity is creating a dramatic and unintended mating crisis among educated women.


…Most women are unwilling to settle for men who are less educated, less intelligent, and less professionally successful than they are. The flip side is that men are less exacting on precisely these dimensions, choosing to prioritize, for better or worse, other evolved criteria such as youth and appearance. So the initial sex ratio imbalance among educated groups gets worse for high achieving women. They end up being forced to compete for the limited pool of educated men not just with their more numerous educated rivals, but also with less educated women whom men find desirable on other dimensions.


…What are the potential solutions to the mating pool shortage for educated women? Adjust their mate preferences? Expand the range of men they are willing to consider as mates? Mating psychology may not be that malleable. The same mating desires responsible for the skewed gender imbalance to begin with continue to create unfortunate obstacles to human happiness. As successful women overcome barriers in the workplace, they encounter new dilemmas in the mating market.

About Amy Alkon

Amy Alkon is the irreverent purveyor of “science news you can use.” Her most recent book is the science-based and bitingly funny "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck” (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2014). Her award-winning, science-based syndicated column runs in about 100 newspapers. She is the 2015 president of the Applied Evolutionary Psychology Society and hosts her own weekly radio show, “ Nerd Your Way to a Better Life,” featuring the luminaries of behavioral science.

One thought on “The Mating Crisis Among Educated Women

  1. A “mating crisis”? I find this short piece a perfect reflection of modern thinking in academia. Perhaps it is satirical, but that wouldn’t make it much different. First, the stats I’m familiar with are more alarming with one speculation that the last male will graduate from college in 2037. It probably isn’t that bad, but certainly there is agreement that things have flipped since the 80s. First is this really a crisis? For the vast part of history the situation was reversed with men mating less educated women and rather than “whine” that it was a crisis it was viewed as an attempt on the patriarchy to keep the power out of the hands of women. Second, as it was put “Most women are unwilling to settle for men who are less educated, less intelligent, and less professionally successful than they are.” I seriously hope this isn’t true as the women I know value factors like compassion, kindness and a good work ethic. How shallow it sounds to only date those with the same education, same IQ and same “success” level…so much for diversity!

    Rather than worrying about the mating crisis for women, I am more concerned why males are making a grand exodus from academia. Could it have anything to do with this kind of thinking? I see young men enter a world where they see posters “this is what a rapist looks like” and hear the phrase “rape culture” on a day to day basis. Students are taught in class that regret = rape and that it is outrageous to require evidence. If I was a young male at a typical university today, I would give myself perhaps a semester before leaving. Of course this is a reflection and focalization of our culture where it is common to blame men for everything. When men were the majority at university, equality was demanded and that was a good thing but now that women are the majority we are supposed to feel bad for them because they don’t have someone of the same education to date?

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