Educational equality between spouses: Not a one-way street?

May 7, 2007 | 51 comments
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In October conference, President Hinckley made an interesting statement about marriage, education, and equality between spouses. He said:

Women have earned more bachelor’s degrees than men every year since 1982 and more master’s degrees since 1986. It is plainly evident from these statistics that young women are exceeding young men in pursuing educational programs. And so I say to you young men, rise up and discipline yourself to take advantage of educational opportunities. Do you wish to marry a girl whose education has been far superior to your own? We speak of being “equally yoked.” That applies, I think, to the matter of education.

There are some interesting implications from that statement.

First, there are some potentially problematic implications. The implication is that men will not — perhaps should not — want to marry women who have a superior education. It is not clear whether this line is meant solely descriptively, or whether it is meant as an endorsement of that standard, or as a normative statement that men should not marry women whose educational credentials surpass their own. If the latter, there are a number of potential implications. We already know that intelligent and educated women are sometimes at a disadvantage when seeking for a marriage partner. This statement might worsen that trend.

However, there are some surprising, strongly pro-feminist implications of this statement as well. There is no reason on the face of it why the language on spouses and being “equally yoked” should be limited to men marrying superior women. Under President Hinckley’s logic (that educational disparity creates an unequal yoke), it may be a problem of unequal yoke if a man is married to a woman with a superior education — but won’t the yoke be similarly unequal for a woman married to a man with superior education? Under President Hickley’s reasoning, it seems, the yoke will always be unequal if one partner is more highly educated than the other — regardless of which partner that is. And if a marriage is in this situation (unequal yoke), isn’t there an implication that the partners in the marriage should take steps to ameliorate the concern?

Thus, President Hinckley’s statement can be read as a very strong, pro-feminist mandate: Women who are married to men who have superior education should go back to school. Otherwise, the marriage will be one of unequal yoke, and that is not acceptable.

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51 Responses to Educational equality between spouses: Not a one-way street?

  1. DKL on May 7, 2007 at 2:02 am

    If I remember correctly, this statement of President Hinckley’s got a chuckle from the audience–and it was said by him in his best, trademark humorous tone. President Hinckley seemed to fully recognizing the irony of using stats that show women outperforming men in order to motivate men to work harder to demonstrate their equality with women. There was also some humor in his usage of the term “yoked” to refer to a man’s relationship of marriage with the women.

    Lastly, for me, the notion of being “equally yoked” implies that if my wife were smarter than me, then I’d somehow be under her thumb. But I may just be prone to think this because she is, and therefore I am. Looks like it’s back to school time for me.

  2. Chance on May 7, 2007 at 2:12 am

    It’s late, and this is going to be very brief…

    Kaimi, no offense, but I think you’re digging here. This talk was given during Priesthood session, and I think the use of “equally yoked” was a way to encourage the directionless priests and RM’s to get it together. This is not to mention that as mothers are encouraged to stay at home the husband is expected to have equal if not greater education than his spouse in order to maximize his earnings potential.

  3. Alison Moore Smith on May 7, 2007 at 2:27 am

    I read this and remember the brouhaha that followed this statement around the bloggernacle last fall. But when I read it over this time, it came into my head with an utterly new meaning than it did the first 15 times.

    Do you wish to marry a girl whose education has been far superior to your own? We speak of being “equally yoked.” That applies, I think, to the matter of education.

    Today it sounded almost like, “So, you’re planning to marry above yourselves, eh? Because you’re lazy? Well, the scriptures speak of being equally yoked and no highly educated woman should be tied down to a slug like you, unless you get off your duff and get educated as well.”

    Haven’t heard the audio, but given President Hinckley’s nature, perhaps that’s a possible read.

  4. Meg on May 7, 2007 at 2:56 am

    I’m managing to have, at the same time, so many opinions about this that I don’t know where to start and so few actual answers that I’m not sure how I even have an opinion, so this comment will probably be incoherent and not actually contain a point.

    I’m a female undergrad at a pretty prestigious university. Every married LDS student at this university is male. Every one of them. It bugs me to no end. None of these men’s wives, who are generally intelligent and wonderful women, don’t get me wrong, will ever be as well educated as her husband.

    But I am perhaps a bit of a hypocrite. I just don’t think I’d be okay with marrying someone that was fine with being less educated that I was. I admitted this in a conversation I had with a friend just a couple of hours ago, after a discussion with a few people on how well an Ivy League diploma translates into marriage prospects for men vs. for women (this probably sounds like a weirder conversation than it actually was – we were sort of kidding).

    Bottom line, almost all women, be they amazingly intelligent or incredibly stupid, want to marry a smart man. I’m just not sure that it works the other way. Men just don’t care as much that their wives are brilliant, at least not to the same extent that women care that their husbands are. Should they care? Well, part of me wants to say that of course they should, and the other part of me just isn’t sure. I know there is some kind of sexism going on here somewhere and I want to be opposed to it, but I’m not sure I actually can be without admitting that I’m part of the problem.

    And I really wouldn’t want to do that ;).

  5. Alison Moore Smith on May 7, 2007 at 5:25 am

    Meg, love your post.

    There are, I think, a couple of problems with your position (a couple that you didn’t already acknowledge).

    None of these men’s wives, who are generally intelligent and wonderful women, don’t get me wrong, will ever be as well educated as her husband.

    Seems you’re making a couple of assumptions here that aren’t necessarily so.

    (1) The women who have chosen, for whatever reason, not to continue with their formal educations at a university for the exact duration their husband’s have are somehow blindly idiotic in this one, particular area–although, still, “generally” not so awful.

    (2) The women who don’t get higher degrees (while their husbands do) are, be definition, going to be generally less educated than their husbands.

    Correct me if you didn’t intend to imply those things. I just read them that way.

    I think #1 is wrong and #2 might well be, depending on the choices of the woman.

    I finished my college career after my bachelors. My husband continued on to get his PhD. Yes, he is more educated and proficient in his specialties of fuzzy logic, automation systems, AUVs, and pretty much anything related to electrical engineering, academia, and corporate management. But I learned to run home businesses, HTML, CSS, PHP, toddler to teen management, public speaking, genealogy extraction, organization systems, homeschooling, karate, choir directing, tax codes for payroll, sole proprietorships, LLCs, S-corps, and C-corps, and a bunch of other things–after I stopped going to school.

    I’m not trying to push the “domestic engineer” idea. But there really are many things that are essential to our home and businesses that I am certainly the “expert” in and in which my “more educated” husband depends on my skills and knowledge. Gosh, he’s a generally intelligent and wonderful man, don’t get me wrong, but he’ll just never be as educated in those areas as his wife. ;)

    I had always intended to get a master’s degree in computer science. I started looking into it about four years after I graduated. Then I realized that I was already doing what I wanted to do and only wanted to get the MS so that I could TELL people I had an MS. Didn’t seem like a valid reason to become “educated.”

    But, then again, it’s nearly 3:30 in the morning. I probably have no idea what I’m talking about.

  6. Coffinberry on May 7, 2007 at 7:47 am

    I think the read of “get off your lazy duffs” (or, alternatively, finish what you start) is likely the more accurate one (as a mom living in a household with a newly-minted elder and a priest and a deacon). The parental example these particular young fellows got went like this: Mom got BS, then Dad got BS, then Dad got MBA, then Mom (has almost) got JD. I think we’ll stop there, though I suppose the “D” in mom’s second degree might make it seem like Mom got more education (but she didn’t).

  7. RK on May 7, 2007 at 8:59 am

    Unfortunately, I have to say that there are many men out there who want to have the intellectual upper hand with the woman they marry. I was a bit bitter about it at first until I realized that they were doing me a favor by passing me over. But not all men are like that. I was working on my masters when I met and married my husband. He saw my education as a plus and would call me affectionately “the educated one” until he got his own masters degree. Both of us are glad that he got it, because he enjoyed the experience and it has helped him to be more successful in his career.

    My husband insisted on displaying our diplomas prominently in the hall so our children will grow up understanding that education is important.

  8. Michael K. on May 7, 2007 at 10:08 am

    I think Allison has hit the nail on the head. \”Education\” does not equal \”time spent in school\”. To illustrate that point, I have a couple of semesters before I can earn a bachelor\’s degree, while my wife graduated back in 1999 and wants to pursue her master\’s. She has a tenacity that far outstrips my own when it comes to things like that. It\’s one of the things I admire most about her. Does that mean she\’s smarter than me? Well, yes and no. Book smarts? I\’ve got her beat there, but only because I\’ve read more books this year than she did in her entire college career. Education to me is more than just sitting in a class and taking notes. It\’s like scripture study. There are those that go through the motions and glean enough information to feel good about what they\’ve learned. Then there are those that are able to dive into the scriptures and really gain an understanding of them. For some reason, I have a knack for absorbing things from books and can put the applicable ones into practice fairly easily. My wife really struggles to learn exclusively from books and learns more easily from a lecture or from discussion.

    Leaving out the effectiveness of higher education in America, being educated does not mean that you have multiple degrees. It means you have acquired truth and knowledge such that the light of the gospel has more power to influence you for good. Let\’s not mistake President Hinckley\’s statement as a call to flood the halls of higher learning, but as a call to acquire and apply truth from all sources. For some it may include getting that second or more advanced degree. For me, it means continually discovering the buried truths on this earth and beyond.

  9. Michelle on May 7, 2007 at 10:29 am

    I wonder if he could have been referring to some bar, a basic level. Say a bachelor’s degree–this would make sense in the United States context, but it doesn’t translate to developing countries. I think especially of the way that black woman are far outpacing black men in entering and completing college, and how educated black women really do lack in the marriage market (if they are looking for a black man).

    I have a PhD, my husband an MBA. I teasingly beg my husband to NOT continue his education. Thankfully, he has no desire to pursue doctoral work. I don’t think we could handle another 5-7 years of grad school.

  10. mlu on May 7, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Yes. Women who are married to men with a lot of education should get as much education as they can.

    But President Hinckley’s original point shouldn’t be overlooked. Things are not going well, educationally, for a lot of today’s young men. It’s a serious problem.

  11. jimbob on May 7, 2007 at 10:36 am

    “We already know that intelligent and educated women are sometimes at a disadvantage when seeking for a marriage partner.”

    Are they? How do we know? I can’t locate them now, but I’ve read articles from the sidebar here which suggested otherwise–i.e., that marriage is now the provence of the rich and educated in America.

  12. Nick Literski on May 7, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    Here’s a wild idea. Maybe more LDS men should take a little time to get their education *before* they get married and start producing all the little “gods in embryo” they can possibly sire. Maybe then, there wouldn’t be so many who have to *quit* school, in order to work more hours to shelter and feed their unmanaged hoard.

    I raised five daughters while I completed a JD and their mother completed an MPA. It’s certainly possible to do things that way, but it’s also risky. Finances were always on the edge, and at any given time, we were one crisis away from temporal disaster.

  13. Meli on May 7, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    I think this has to be in the call to men (remember this was priesthood) to get out there and get their educations.

    10 years ago, I married my husband with 2 years of college education under my belt, while he had 2 associates degrees.

    Now, I’ll be finishing my PhD this year and he has … 2 associates degrees.

    Yes he keeps saying that his turn is next, but I think a lot of daughters have absorbed ideas about success and a good education their whole lives, and a lot of men are … struggling to find where they fit in.

    And while Heavenly Father has been slow to bless our marriage with children, the large imbalance in earning potential that are different degrees has created could be very problematic if/when I want to slow down and stay home.

  14. dangermom on May 7, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Meg, I agree with the above comments about your post. But if it will make you feel any better, when we were first married I was done with my BA and my husband still had a year to go. After he was done with that, he put me through grad school. No one in the ward there seemed to think it was strange or anything. So I’m a bit more ”officially” educated than he is, but both of us have gone on to do much more learning on our own. Come to think of it, the same can be said for my parents.

    I know quite a few women who have pursued more education after their husbands are finished. It’s just that it can be difficult to raise a family while both partners go to school. Someone needs to pay the rent, after all…

  15. dangermom on May 7, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    Oh, and I also agree that the point of the message was “Guys, go out and get an education.” It is a real problem these days.

  16. CS Eric on May 7, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    I took this as a “guys, get off your duff and do something with your lives”-type admonition. Put together with Elder Oaks’ talk a few years ago (at least I remember it as Elder Oaks) telling young men, returned missionaries especially, to stop “hanging out” and start dating and get married, the Brethren seem to be concerned that the rising generation needs to get their act together.

  17. caton on May 7, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    In my experience (admittedly anecdotal) is that the situation is reversed. Men in the church seem far more likely to pursue graduate degrees than women. This leads to asymmetrical marriages, in my opinion.

  18. MAC on May 7, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    full disclosure…my wife has a master’s degree from an ivy league school, I have two BS degrees.

    I think that “Do you wish to marry a girl whose education has been far superior to your own?” is directed more at men who have not yet married.

    I don’t see a heavy pro-feminist aspect, but a pro-education and pro-get your butt in gear menfolk statement.

  19. Ardis Parshall on May 7, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    caton, I wonder how many of us are incompletely aware of women’s higher education, when women aren’t obviously involved in academics. For example, in our ward everybody knows that D. is a doctor because he is visibly practicing, but I wonder how many are aware that J., his wife, is working on her dissertation in literature, because she’s getting her degree from a university in another state and is not visibly either a student or a professor. You might be surprised by the education simmering in the life of some women you know.

  20. queuno on May 7, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    I’ve known a few financially successful priesthood holders, who barely had a high school degree. They brought in good money — more than other people in the ward. But they were, pardon the expression, dumb as rocks.

    I think GBH was pushing this idea — it’s not about the income — it’s about the “education”.

  21. queuno on May 7, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    In other words, do we want a generation of bishops and stake presidents and elders quorum presidents who can’t possibly understand nuance, history, society, the world around them, and able to communicate ideas in an effective manner? I think that’s what he’s worried about, and I think he has cause for real concern.

    A note to my fellow brethren — who probably aren’t reading this blog — an MBA is a worthy pursuit. But talking at Church how you’re only interested in the MBA so you can make an extra $50K a year, and using GBH’s counsel to get “educated” as justification, seems a bit misguided. Shouldn’t there be a “little” focus on becoming better educated in the issues of management, people, and organization? Must an MBA be all about money?

    signed,
    queuno, the ABD

  22. Starfoxy on May 7, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    For being members of a church that is all about having the proper authority, and keeping meticulous records, we sure can be quick to gloss over the importance of getting our education at an accredited university and obtaining diplomas. Employers won’t give you a chance to prove to them that you have the skills they need, they want some kind of evidence from a reputable source in advance. Even if the diploma isn’t a guarantee that you’ve got the skills, it is still better than your word alone. A married couple may be equally intelligent or skilled, but if only one of them has the piece of paper to prove it then they are unequally yolked.

  23. bbell on May 7, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    I saw it aimed at YM and younger males who are often drifting aimlessly without a purpose.

    We are not immune from the “Slacker Guy” syndrome.
    BYU from what I understand has a clear gender inbalance.

    In order to understand the comments you need to look at who the audience was. It was in PH session and if I remember right was pointed at younger males.

    I do not think you can expand the comments to take in other scenarios as mentioned above.

  24. Lupita on May 7, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Ardis–that’s an excellent point. I find that many women I know (but certainly not all) do not flaunt their degrees or intellectual pursuits. I’m often surprised how much is going on under the radar.
    I also read this quote as a call for men to educate themselves as much as possible.
    I’d like to point out that while pursuing education (in any form but in this case, leading towards a specific academic degree) is tremendously important, telling spouses (in general) and women (more specifically) that they need to pursue the same level of education seems ludicrous. First of all, it leads to privileging certain fields and degrees and doesn’t allow for the fact that some people are just plain not interested in academic work. Secondly, it ignores the realities of many women I know. Once motherhood begins, it’s incredibly difficult to find time to balance all of the new responsibilities without contemplating additional pressures involving schooling. Of course, one could argue that this could be done before having children but biology isn’t kind.
    I started graduate school the same time my husband started medical school. We didn’t live near family and when our much-wanted first child came along, everything became infinitely more complex. I’m not saying it’s impossible (because even a schmuck like me did it) but I do think that women bear a lot more burdens (no pun intended) and that while encouraging all to get as much education as they can, we should also be mindful that being unequally yoked in the educational sense may just be for a season.
    Whew, that was wordy.

  25. Kevin Barney on May 7, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    #9, You’re right about the limitations for educated and intelligent black women looking for similarly educated black men. One time some years ago I was working on a deal and a young investment banker took my partner and me out to dinner at a place called, IIRC, Houston’s in Chicago. The banker was black. We were all wearing suits. So we go to this place and get seated, and it appeared to be a kind of power black yuppie hangout. Across the aisle from us was Jon Kelly, then a local sportscaster but now an entertainment reporter on one of those national TV shows. Jesse Jackson III (now a congressman, although he wasn’t back then) came over to say hi.

    What particularly struck me was that during our dinner, the waiter kept slipping little pieces of paper into our host’s hands. They were phone numbers from black women in the restaurant. I looked around, and the place was loaded with these gorgeous black women, dressed to the nines. They were all highly educated, and this was a (rare) place to try to land an educated black man. So they were aggressively sending our host notes and phone numbers even during our meal. I was really impressed; it was a sight to behold.

    This guy had better odds than a normal, available Mormon man at an LDS singles conference!

  26. Mark on May 7, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Several commenters have already stated it well: look at the context!

    For years, President Hinckley has clearly urged us (and especially young people) to get all the learning and education we can. The young men are lagging behind. So he says: Rise up, young men, and get with the program! It will help everyone out, especially because the young women are largely doing their part.

    President Hinckley doesn\’t mince words, even with his kindly way. If he wanted us to extrapolate that \”spouses should try to even out their educational levels\”, he wouldn\’t couch it in just one or two indirect statements.

    My wife and I were both in singles wards (in different states) for many years. The frustration in her Utah ward is that many of the single women had college degrees, stable careers, and in some cases had saved money to buy their own home. The majority of the guys had \”some college\” and had various odd jobs, a not-yet-paid-for car or truck, and that was about it. Is it any wonder that President Hinckley would make such a statement to men in this group?

  27. John Mansfield on May 7, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    When Pres. Hinckley spoke those words, they struck me as his way of comfirming the wisdom of Napoleon Dynamite that “girls are only interested in guys who have skills.”

  28. manaen on May 7, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    When I returned from my mission in 1973, I found that the prevailing domestic issue had changed from racism to sexism. I spent a couple years’ study of anything I could find by current and historical Church leaders to understand where we were on this issue. I wish I had the reference at hand, but one comment by BY that caught my attention was that if we had to choose between educating the girls or the boys, we would educate the girls — because they would raise the succeeding generation. I’m still struck by how this shows we don’t fit in the normal boxes: this could make us ultra-feminists by choosing the girls over the boys, but it then makes us the opposite by assuming the girls will be the home makers and will have children.

    This was while we were scandalizing the country not just with polygamy but with enacting women’s suffrage and sending women to eastern universities for advanced learning — professional women were a significant part of Deseret’s economy while mature men were off on long-term missions.

    This doesn’t, however, shelter today’s male slugs from Pres. Hinckley’s admonition!

  29. caton on May 7, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    Why is it acceptable to call men slugs or deadbeats? There is already incredible pressure on men in the church to pursue education and careers to be single-income providers when 75% of the households in America rely on two incomes. This despite two years of delay in education secondary to missions.

    When I look around singles wards, there is of course a selection bias towards those not ready for marriage. Of course there would be lots of slacker men in these groups. On the whole, however, what I see is that women in the church are highly college educated, i.e. they are very likely to finish college and do well in their coursework. I’m pretty sure mormon women outperform women nationally in college graduation rates and performance. I’m also pretty sure that mormon women underperform women nationally in graduate school attendance and career development when compared to women of similar SES backgrounds.

  30. manaen on May 7, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    29.

    RE: Why is it acceptable to call men slugs or deadbeats?
    “…after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear. And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; [...]wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center. And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us.” (1 Ne 16:1-3)

    RE: I’m pretty sure mormon women outperform women nationally in college graduation rates and performance.
    If we can generalize BYU’s experience from when I was there in the 70′s, mormon women were *under*performing women nationally because they’d get married and drop out to put their husbands through to graduation.

  31. a spectator on May 7, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    +there is a difference between education and smarts

    +there is a difference between being educated and being financially ready to support a family. I would guess that many good auto mechanics can make more money than an English PhD.

    +I appreciate the Chruchs’ and GBH’s support of education, I just wish he had expressed it in such a way that he was not trying to shame the guys into getting through school for fear of an educated wife. There are worse things to have.

    +I admit to being an overeducated wife. I love school. Were I independently wealthy, I would be an eternal student.

  32. Pearl on May 7, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    I\’ve really enjoyed all the posts… especially #27 – thanks John!

    When I married my husband 15 years ago, I had an MBA and he had a BS. That is still the case, and he is an at-home dad while I have been a career woman for twenty years (as well as a mom for the past 10 years). Even though I have one more diploma than my husband, I feel that we are \”equally yoked\” in terms of education.

    What this discussion has made me recall was some personal advice that I received from Elder Hales when I was on the brink of deciding between going on a mission or getting an MBA. He STRONGLY encouraged me to get an MBA… and apparently I was such an oddity that he even had Elder Eyring call me and encourage me also! Clearly our church leaders want young women to be well educated. And lots of them have been doing just that… PARTICULARLY ones who don\’t get married by age 23. The trick is being one of those well-educated Mormon women looking for a LDS man to marry. It does present a challenge to many. And maybe THAT is why Pres Hinckley wants more young men to pursue university degrees… so these well-educated women have some men who are willing to marry them. I know from personal experience in my life and that of my friends… its an ego challenge for many men to marry a woman with more education and earning potential than them.

  33. manaen on May 7, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    31. Thanks for your points. A comment from DOM that I like very much is,

    It is one thing to acquire knowledge and quite another to apply it. Wisdom is the right application of knowledge and true education — the education for which the Church stands — is the application of knowledge towards the development of a noble and godlike character. (Gospel Ideals, p. 440)

    Pres. Hinckley may have intended to include professional/technical training (vs. education) in his warning but I doubt he’d exclude DOM’s “true education” from it.

  34. Ugly Mahana on May 7, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    I, for one, am tired of people extrapolating from their experience at BYU in the 70s. Times have changed in the world, the country, the Church, and BYU.

  35. gst on May 7, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    I agree with Ugly. Frankly, I wish we belonged to a culture where it was acceptable to push the elderly out into the snow. Feels good to get that off my chest.

  36. a spectator on May 7, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    ooh gst–where is that? Me and my grandma will be right over….

  37. Tatiana on May 7, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    “The advantages of natural folly in a beautiful girl have been already set forth by the capital pen of a sister author, — and to her treatment of the subject I will only add in justice to men, that though to the larger and more trifling part of the sex, imbecility in females is a great enhancement of their personal charms, there is a portion of them too reasonable and too well-informed themselves to desire anything more in woman than ignorance.” –Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

  38. Tatiana on May 7, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    (grins)

  39. Pearl on May 7, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    Mahana, which post were you referencing in 34?

  40. Locke on May 8, 2007 at 1:15 am

    We know the churches stance on education and how we value it for both sexes. I believe Pres. Hinkley was serious a little when he says, “do you want to marry a women with more education than you?”. Of course we want our women and daughter to get a college education but that is secondary to their role as mothers who nurture children in the home. I have a large number of married friends who are postponing children due to their wives interest in graduate school. Now for my disclaimer, their are obviously extenuating circumstances to this statement. There are bigger issues too that President Hinkley brings up, my mother raised me on my own and entered the workforce due to my deadbeat dad. This also contributes to the problem. Women in my experience work harder, especially when they are trying to provide for themselves and children. A double edged sword with women getting too much education instead of being at home and men being lazy forcing women to become competitive.

  41. m&m on May 8, 2007 at 2:40 am

    You might be surprised by the education simmering in the life of some women you know.

    Excellent point, Ardis. I’m sure there are many people around me who don’t know I got a graduate degree.

    I also second what Alison said about education. It’s a lifelong process, not just about going to school.

    I also agree with Alison’s interpretation…this was a ‘get off your duff’ kind of thing, IMO.

  42. m&m on May 8, 2007 at 2:44 am

    p.s. I meant around me in my ward and neighborhood. To many, I’m the mom of my children and they don’t know much about my life before motherhood.

  43. Alison Moore Smith on May 8, 2007 at 3:59 am

    starfoxy: Employers won’t give you a chance to prove to them that you have the skills they need, they want some kind of evidence from a reputable source in advance. Even if the diploma isn’t a guarantee that you’ve got the skills, it is still better than your word alone. A married couple may be equally intelligent or skilled, but if only one of them has the piece of paper to prove it then they are unequally yolked.

    Why would the only options be “your word alone” or a diploma?

    My first business, just a few months after having my first baby, we doing desktop publishing. I didn’t have an MS in CAD. But I’d worked at space utilization at BYU while in school and then created a great portfolio at home. I had more business than I could do while my baby (and later, two babies) were sleeping (which was my designated work schedule) until my husband finished grad school.

    After moving to Florida, I started a niche subscription newsletter and, later, an educational mail-order catalog. When my fourth daughter was born and I was too busy to run it, I sold it to a Maryland corp. And I didn’t have an MBA.

    Currently I have a few things I’m involved in (web services, accounting, writing. public speaking) and my degrees are the same as they were in 1987.

    True, I’ve always been home and my family has always been the priority, but I’ve worked with clients enough to know that I could get a job without more paper on my wall.

    I have friends who have done so much more than I have, in similar circumstances, that I know it’s not that uncommon.

    To be clear, I’m certainly not trying to minimize the value of formal education, but the truth is, the degrees are really only meaningful in some areas, not across the board.

  44. Norbert on May 8, 2007 at 5:54 am

    ‘To be clear, I’m certainly not trying to minimize the value of formal education, but the truth is, the degrees are really only meaningful in some areas, not across the board.’

    True that. I have a MA in composition theory, and my wife has something equivalent to a BA in design. But she is well-known in Finland as a designer. In fact, if it weren’t for my foreign hire benefits, she would make more money working than I would as a school teacher. (She’d also have to work more days and hours than I do, of course.) We tend to overemphasize The Professions as the keys to success over the creative fields.

  45. Adam on May 8, 2007 at 9:09 am

    #28 – Our former stake president, while serving in that position, counseled over the pulpit that men should work outside the home so their spouses could do their work in the home. Not the other way around.

    We do have a very nuanced position in the gender role issue, don’t we?

  46. Starfoxy on May 8, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Alison,
    I don’t think a diploma is the only option. Work experience, like yours, is just as valuable (probably more). The main thing I’m trying to get at is simply having skills or knowledge isn’t enough, one needs something to show for it that employers will recognize in order to be able to market themselves effectively. Having a diploma, verifiable work experience, or a portfolio as proof of your skill set is very important.

    For an example of what I’m getting at- The YW in Excellence award represents about as much time and effort as the Eagle Scout award, they may or may not be the exact same, but they are at least comparable. Unless a potential employer is familiar with the YW program putting the YW award on a resume is pointless. For all they know you’re just making things up. On the other hand just about everyone has heard of the BSA, so putting ‘Eagle Scout’ on a resume is more effective.

  47. Ugly Mahana on May 8, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Pearl (#39)

    Now that I look over the responses, I can’t find the comment I was responding to. Hmm. That should teach me something about being particularly rude and pointed. Apologies all.

  48. Pearl on May 8, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    No worries Mahana. I was just curious to hear about the changes you referenced, since I have never attended BYU. When I was choosing a college to attend, I was saddened by the low graduation rate of female BYU students back then (1982). I am hoping that with the university being much more competitive these days, the students attending (both male and female) are all focused on completing their degrees.

    Anyone know the current stats?

  49. CW on May 8, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    Starfoxy I appreciate your comment about the YW medallion VS the Eagle. In our stake they commonly announce eagles and YW medallions over the pulpit in sacrament meeting to recognize the accomplishments of our youth. I have always had this pet peeve about the bishopric member saying \”a YW medallion is comparable to an eagle\” as a way of indicating its significance. Young Women\’s accomplishments can be significant in their own right, we don\’t have to give them credibility by comparing them to things boys do. Any way one sunday I was announcing a young man who had completed his eagle, and I said with a straight face \”for those of you who don\’t know much about the eagle, it is basically comparable to a YW Medallion\”.

    That got a good laugh from many that day because they knew I was doing a little back handed social commentary. But you are right, it is less known and doesn\’t have the same universal recognition. Sorry for digressing.

  50. Bev P on May 11, 2007 at 7:38 am

    Sorry, another BYU story. I didn’t find a husband at the bachelor’s level, ergo I got a master’s. Didn’t find one then either, but my mother said, “Enough. Get a job” so I did. Then, when I finally did find one, I gave my crew 17 years of staying home out of my professional career, and I completed my PhD just in time to reach retirement age. I did it just for fun [thankfully, my boss paid for it] and the privilege of having the kids refer to me just once each as Dr Mom. When their dad completed his MSc some years back, I’m told [I don't remember] I made some kind of comment about having to get a PhD to restore the differential, probably just one of those smart-mouth comments you make without thinking of the potential, and I’ve paid for it. But apparently Pres. Hinckley hit it on the head – some are sensitive to those differentials. But smarting under them is no guarantee of motivation to learn, maybe only to snipe. Or to flaunt an academic trophy wife.

    I’d like to add one other thought though: What’s a relatively bright girl to do while she’s working professionally, and waiting around for the equally bright and at least equally qualified no longer young single adult males, RMs, temple goers, to get their marital act together? She does an MA. And then maybe a PhD. Because it beats staying home and mourning the death of the dream. Come on guys, there are some wonderful women out there who could do with a yoked husband of some description so they can raise up children in Zion the way they’d love to do!

  51. DKL on May 13, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    It’s worth noting that in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey marries a woman (Mary Hatch, played by Donna Reed) who has a college education, though George himself never goes to college.

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