What Men Want

by F.

Back in the day, it was Betty Crocker:

In 2001, University of Texas psychologist David M. Buss and colleagues compared mate preferences based on national surveys taken for several decades beginning in 1939. Their research, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, found that in 1956, education and intelligence ranked 11th among the things men desired in a mate. The respondents were more attracted to someone who was a good cook and housekeeper, had a pleasing disposition, and was refined and neat. By 1967, education and intelligence had moved up only one place, to number 10, and still counted for less than being a good cook or displaying neatness and refinement.

Now, it’s Carly Fiorina:

Many studies show that men now want a wife who is at a similar educational or occupational level. The 2001 Journal of Marriage and Family paper found that in mate-preference surveys taken in 1985 and 1996, intelligence and education had moved up to number 5 on men’s list of desirable qualities in a mate in both surveys, ahead of good looks. Meanwhile, the desire for a good cook and housekeeper had dropped to 14th place in both surveys, near the bottom of the 18-point scale. And in choosing a spouse, males with a college degree rate good looks much lower in importance than do high school graduates. “In a high-achieving man’s definition of an A-list woman, the A increasingly stands for ‘accomplished,’ ” says Deborah Siegel, former director of special projects at the National Council for Research on Women, in New York, and coauthor of the forthcoming book Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild.

Sounds right to me. Domesticity and lack of drive just isn’t sexy.

Read Stephanie Coontz’ entire piece on this issue here in The Boston Globe.