It's common for high-achieving women to marry for the first time at age 30, according to CPS data. So in that first wave of late-20s weddings, successful women may be feeling a little panicky. Some 55 percent of women with graduate degrees have married by age 29, compared to 61 percent of other women.
But then the tide turns: It's significantly more likely that a woman with a graduate degree will walk down the aisle in her 30s than a woman with a college degree or less. And SWANS' own experiences reflect this.
Jessica, a 35-year-old entrepreneur, has an explanation for the difference in timing: "The more successful woman, or the higher IQ woman, might be less likely to get married young because she has the intellect to see through the garbage that some other people might not care to see through. She has the awareness, and has been raised to ask the questions that will immediately be obstacles to getting married." Jessica has many smart friends who found their match and married in their 20s, but she is proud of her decision to continue to search for the right man for her, instead of settling. For women in their 30s, she added, "I would say that our education is helping us -- we now have the balance, the yin and the yang, the softness and business success."
Kama, a consultant in Chicago, said she and her friends, all in their early 30s, have been doing some studies of their own to test whether their degrees are holding them back on the dating scene -- and the results have been promising. "I had a friend who did speed dating with 28 guys. In half of those quick introductions she said she went to Harvard Business School and in half she didn't mention it. She got the same number of ask-outs from each pool. It's a small sample, but I hope that's a good sign."
For Julia, the New York lawyer who told men at bars that she was a secretary, things changed at 36. "Yeah, then I met Adam," she said with a shy smile, unconsciously playing with her wedding ring. The couple met at a friend's party, and Julia, who had all but given up on meeting someone special, said she could tell from the beginning he was different. So she told him she was a lawyer. "Adam finds my intelligence more of a turn-on. He can talk to me and I understand him. From the time we met, it was like a first date that never ended. We were engaged in four months and married in under a year. For the first time, I felt I didn't have to hide parts of myself."
Melissa and Kristen, both in their late 20s, don't understand why any woman would be concerned. They are both seriously dating men who value their intelligence, and they feel confident that their good experiences are the norm. "These studies are complete crap. Danny doesn't know anything about finance," said Kristen, who is starting a new job as an investment banker at a leading firm. "He runs a wine import business. I can think of so many examples where guys are sometimes attracted to beautiful, blond, popular girls when they are young, but when they are older, they are looking for girls who are brighter, and have more intellectual qualities."