Social relationships are so complex and complicated that it is not surprising that they are the subject of many studies. In this case, I would like to comment on some recent work that focuses on one of the psychological factors that come into play in male-female relationships.
Apparently, men feel uncomfortable when they are with more ambitious women and when they are more successful (Work or social) than them.
The romantic sentence
The “romantic pain” that ambitious women undergo is not a new issue. There are many studies related to it, although these two new works reinforce this concept.
The first, made in the United States, shows how single women reduce their ambitions in public, While the second, conducted in Sweden, reveals a real consequence of ambitions in marriages: the increase in divorces.
Single women hide their ambitions
The study by Leonardo Bursztyn, Thomas Fujiwara and Amanda Pallais, three American economists, first consisted in proposing a questionnaire to be completed to a group of new students for a master’s in business administration (MBA), as part of his initiation to it.
The questionnaire contained questions about professional preferences and personality traits needed to run a business. But there were two types of quizzes that differed only in the use of a single sentence: in some cases the results were declared to be completely anonymous; and in others that the answers were going to be made public and that the name had to be indicated.
The results were not long in coming. When looking at the private responses between single and engaged women and men, there are no significant differences. But it was not the same in public.
While women with partners and men maintained the same response as before, in single women emerged a totally different pattern of responses and still below the scale of ambitions. When asked about the desired salary, for example, the amount was reduced to $ 18,000 per year less than the private response. Willingness to travel was also affected (7 days less per month); and the same happened with the desired weekly working hours: 4 hours less per week.
So in the responses of single women that were revealed to the rest of the class there has been a decrease in professional ambitions and expressed leadership. The authors concluded that these women do not want to appear ambitious because of the “bad image” it creates in finding a partner. As one of its authors points out, “Single women avoid actions that could help them in their careers when they have negative consequences in the ‘marriage market'”.
Women’s success associated with divorce
The second job was done by the couple Olle Folke and Johanna Rickne, in Sweden. This study shows how career advancement in women negatively affects their marriage, as opposed to whether it is male.
This research was made possible thanks to the presentation by the Swedish government of a complete file of information of its inhabitants (to the great pleasure of the sociologists). In fact, they focused on a sector where the ambitions are very clear: in marriage couples from aspirants to parliamentarians.
The divorce rate is high among politicians in this country. The number of these before an election is similar between future “losers” and “winners”, but changes drastically after them, with an almost double increase among the winners. But it is more accentuated if the winner is a woman.
There are several relevant factors in this phenomenon, such as age differences, but in general it can be seen that when a woman gets a promotion with a salary increase (in this case, also associated with power is clearly higher than if it was the man who had obtained the place. This has also been observed in promotions within private companies.While it is sometimes difficult to discern when a promotion in a company is positive or negative, it does not always lead to better terms.
New life … in every way
The conclusion reached by the authors is that when a woman suddenly succeeds in working, she puts her marriage in jeopardy if the man has always been the dominant force in household income. To reaffirm it, they pointed out that a greater number of divorces are observed in cases where the wife becomes the main household income force above the husband.
Of course, these results also cannot be extrapolated to countries other than Sweden, as the culture and traditions are different in each country. However, the question is to what extent women’s gender roles are likely to be less restrictive elsewhere than in Sweden.