The large majority of Americans aren’t just focused on careers, and this includes college women. The 2012 Her Campus “Ultimate College Girl Survey” of 2,589 girls ages 17-23 from 677 colleges across the country found that more than 80 percent of respondents wanted to be married by age 30—17.1 percent under age 25, 46.5 percent between ages 25-27, and 20.9 percent between ages 28-30. And a majority wanted to have kids by age 30—including a quarter who wanted kids by age 27. By age 27, which is traditionally five years out of college, over 60 percent want to be married and a quarter want to have kids. Where are the serious articles, books, circles, and foundations discussing this?
Susan Patton hit the national stage with a letter to the editor to The Daily Princetonian advising women to search for husbands while on campus. Now known as the “Princeton Mom,” Patton has parlayed this message into op-eds, TV appearances, and a book deal. Her initial observation hardly should have been controversial: She reminded Princeton coeds that they are in an environment which includes the highest concentration of eligible men who share their interests and dreams that they will likely ever find in their lives. So it makes sense to look for a spouse. She’s since taken this message in a more controversial direction—she does have books to sell—but that her original piece received so much mocking signals how far the pendulum has swung to making it taboo to acknowledge marriage as a life goal.
It shouldn’t be that way. We should have honest conversations about getting ahead in all aspects of life—and not just give women advice on the career aspect.
Young girls would be better off if so many “girl power” movements didn’t focus on single-minded careerism. Instead of just discussing how to “lean in” to work, we should broaden the discussion to how to “lean in” to life. After all, when we think of Barbie, we don’t just think about her career, but also Ken.