Customer Reviews: Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women
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on February 4, 2007
In addition to short narratives (which prove nothing), the surveys have built-in response bias -- which skews the results. Read through the questions and ask yourself "Of the thousands of people surveyed, which man is going to admit that he prefers a less-threatening woman of lower intelligence?" In a survey, who wouldn't claim that they would like to date a smart person? This book would have been much more credible if the author had used quanifiable sources of information, including IQ tests, SAT scores, etc. not only for the person that they were surveying, but to document who they were married to. And the "wishful thinking" questions don't provide any real information. After all, who isn't "open" to marrying up? I'm not basing my life strategies on some pie-in-the-sky thinking that those surveyed told a researcher. Better to look at who they HAVE dated instead. Research that asked "How would you rate the last person you had a significant relationship (one year or longer)? Answer: below average intelligence (below 100 IQ), average intelligence (100 IQ), above average (up to 130), genius (130 - 150), or super genius (150 and up). And asking someone if they think they are "high achieving" could mean anything! In the county where I live right now, not being in jail is considered super-achieving!! Did they ask about property, investment, or earnings? Did they rate professions on a scale to achieve this survey answer? Not that I could find. Every good researcher knows that past experience is the BEST indicator of performance.

I'm a college professor. Any paper we publish or give at a conference has to have quantifiable research or we're laughed out of the discipline. We have to reveal more about our research and when others find that our questions encourage biased answers, our research is refused publication, our reputations are tarnished, and we are often drummed out of education. I wish this held true for "pop" writers. With their ability to reach millions of readers, they should be EVEN MORE responsible with research. Very disappointing!
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on March 27, 2007
To be fair, I am not the target audience for this book. I'm in my early twenties and have at no point in my life believed that my intelligence would be a barrier to finding a lasting relationship. While I agree that smart men marry smart women, I felt that the methods Whelan used to arrive at this conclusion were flawed. I agree with the reviewer below who suggested that there was an inherent bias in the research. Additionally, I felt as though the same points were being repeated over and over throughout the book without sufficient evidence to back them up. I kept thinking I had already read a particular section but soon realized the book was perpetually rehashing the same ideas.

A recurring thought I had while reading the book was that smart women (whether you're measuring by IQ, academic achievement, or professional success) may be accepting the myth that men are intimidated by their intelligence in order to shift the blame for failed relationships onto another person. The smart women I know who have trouble finding partners (and there are not many of them) are in this position not because men can't handle being with an equal, but because they base their interactions with men on pop psychology and he advice in self-help books. If one good thing comes out of this book, maybe women will realize that if it's not their intelligence that's the problem, it must be something else.

Additionally, the book seems at times almost disdainful of women who've chosen an alternative path--by which I mean staying home to raise a family. My understanding was that feminism had moved past that point. It is just as valid for a man to choose a spouse based on qualities such as kindness, dependability, and morality as to marry someone who is intelligent, educated, or knowledgeable about politics. In fact, I believe that a truly smart woman is one who is a package deal--who balances her drive and ambition with concern for others and the ability and desire to nurture loved ones. I would look for the same in a man.
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on September 14, 2008
The overall message seemed confusing and contradictory.

At the beginning of the book, the author seems to define "smart" as someone that makes a lot of money and has a lot of power. (Occasional nods to those that work for charity.) She goes onto explain that "smart" men like "smart" women according to her surveys, so smart women needn't worry. She explains that "smart" men rate qualities associated with "smart" women as important in a spouse, and validates this as understandable because it shows men want intellectual/career equals.

However, then she goes on to say that women should not rule out men that do not fit her definition of "smart" (not high power, not rich.) It seems like she's saying, don't use the standard I've used to define women as smart/worthwhile to define whether a man is smart/worthwhile. While it's understandable that MEN want a smart women because it means they will be more intellectally compatiable, challenge each other, etc., don't use that same rationale when choosing a husband. She justifies marrying "smart" when talking about the men's spouses, but then says it's a bad standard when talking about women's spouses.

I spent a lot of the book wondering if I even fit into the author's target market of "smart women," as I am not a CEO or have a six-figure salary.

Also, she fails to mention the medical complications of women that choose to have children later in life. This is a serious and real challenge of women that decide to marry later in life.

She also took a jab a feminists that I thought was completely misguided and unnecessary.

Overall I did not think this book was very useful...
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on August 15, 2011
I found this book to be something that I hope would be true. Sadly, this book at times came off as condescending and was more common sense than anything. Also, it got extremely repetitive (certain chapters reiterated other chapters - a lot could have been trimmed in all honesty), but all in all it was slightly entertaining. I was definitely not in the age group it was aimed at (I was 22 when I read this book) but I found some of the insight to be enjoyable. The book, though, suffered from some amount of poor research and poor planning - the book had a tendency to plod and go off on tangents.

Would I suggest this book? Probably not. It's more of a 2.5/5 but it wasn't too bad. Read if you're 40 and having a midlife crisis, but otherwise don't bother.
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on May 7, 2007
This is a great book: it provides firm evidence that debunks the myth that successful women will struggle to find partners. In a great combination of social science research and interesting interviews, Whelan demolishes the oft-cited view that being successful will deter potential mates: great news for all the women out there who've been told they must choose between achievement and marriage.

If the previous reviewer had read past p.75 he might also have noticed that the one thing this book does NOT do is argue that being successful is an excuse for not finding a partner (ie, he was SO intimidated by me that he dumped me). In fact, one of the things that makes this book so great is that it points out that one of the reasons for the persistence of this myth is that women can buy into it as an excuse.

Great book!
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on January 6, 2007
When I first saw the title of this book, I thought Whelan might be onto a fine idea -- if only she could get women to go for it. After all, it's not the guys in the chess club or the nat'l honor society who get the groupies, babes, and head cheerleaders. A physics prof once related to me how their department's students say physics is an "Oh" major because when they meet a girl and tell her they are one, the girls always say "Oh". And then there was the failure/closing 7-8 yrs ago of the Nobel Prize winner's sperm bank, in the midst of a booming market for alternative reproductive technologies and an actual shortage of sperm in some european countries. Go figure.

The resolution is that Whelan unfortunately conflates being smart with conventional middle-class measures of success, such as diplomas and jobs with name-brand outfits. Conformity to established norms and the desire to fit in are much greater determinants of success in such enterprises. Actually being smart is likely to get one into trouble before you can get very far. And employers have strict rules against hiring people smarter than themselves; the new dummies hired then rise in rank until they're hiring the next generation of even dummer dummies. Such people will fall for the flattery presented in this book. The only study she mentions actually involving IQ is brought up only to dismiss its findings, which are decades out of date anyway.

The other fundamental problem which came immediately to mind is that marriage confers no substantial rights on men these days, only obligations. It's what's called an adhesion contract. So a man who would even consider marrying can't be too bright. The terms "sap" or "chump" come readily to mind. But such matters don't stop the author from delivering what amounts to a relentless (read: too forced sounding) pep-talk to women about their great chances of living happily ever after, even in light of data she presents about how the number of never-married people in their thirties has quadrupled in the last twenty-five years. A recent study found 22% of men in this age group to be strongly "marriage averse" because all the risks are just too great given the marginal rewards. This tends to leave women with those who have nothing to lose. Whelan doesn't go into such matters very deeply if at all because she's too busy trying to see the glass as being half full even though the marriage rate is more than 40% lower now than 35 years ago.

Otherwise, you'll also find a lot of standard issue pop-feminist and women's magazine style blather about fragile male egos, how men are intimidated by smart successful women (how could they possibly know?), and other nonsense of the sort that women have invented out of thin air, repeat endlessly to themselves, and then think are BITs (Big Inviolable Truths). And all her male interviews pointed to a standard female fixation on success-object type men -- investment bankers, lawyers at prestigious firms, and the like, all of whom came across as very one-dimensional. But I guess that's inevitable when the focus is (still) on getting the "Man Prize".

Then, in a really bizarre twist, after several decades of women lecturing men about all the things men can't expect from women anymore, this younger generation of women are now telling themselves that the problem is, get this, they're "over-qualified" for love. It reminded me of the report on eastern european prostitutes, who, facing an accute shortage of clients, are now attempting to compete effectively in the tight marketplace by offering to cook and clean in addition to their regular duties. That wasn't a good development, so I stopped reading the book around page 75. It just wasn't my cup of tea.

One good thing is Whelan is rather young, so maybe after much more study and thought she'll come up with something really worth reading; her simple thesis has a simple explanation, but it wouldn't be fair for me to not let her figure it out for herself.
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on April 28, 2007
Well, looking over the reviews here, I see the mark of a really good book--controversy!

In Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women, the author argues that the "success penalty" for women with higher education or career success is a thing of the past. And with reams of data -- plus engaging anecdotes and advice to make these dry numbers very readable (this book is, after all, meant to reach out to a large audience) -- she makes a solid case for this good news.

It's sad but unsurprising that some won't let go of well over a generation of dated thinking. Are we to ignore the U.S. Census data that has proven that women with master's, professional and doctoral degrees are as or *more* likely to have married than other women their age with less education?

Much of the data Whelan presents in the book comprises opinions and anecdotes, and yes, that is always suspect (though rather necessary, I should imagine, to get it beyond academic libraries and into mainstream bookstores). But the 2005 US Census data is hard to dispute: there's 75% chance that a never-married 30-year-old woman with an advanced degree will marry, compared with a 66% chance for a 30-year-old with a college degree or less. Education is a plus in the marriage dept. This is a change worth recognizing, if only to alleviate the (very real) anxieties of so many educated women.

I've already shared this book with bright 20- and 30-something friends who are rattled after hearing about one guy or another who found their friend/co-worker/classmate intimidating. Situations like that rear up all the old stereotypes and fears. (And my friends, in turn, share it with their mothers!)

We need to support this debunking research till the old myths are gone. Once the next generation of men and women say, "Huh? Why would a guy possibly be intimidated by a successful woman?" we'll know that Whelan's book has done its job.
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on February 23, 2013
I really recommend this book if you are a young successful woman without a partner. And it is also insanely cheap!
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on December 22, 2011
Smart men DO want to marry smart women...but that's NOT the same thing as saying that smart men want to marry CEOs or trial attorneys. This woman seems to think that being a dedicated "career (wo)man" implies some special intelligence rather than what is sometimes a sign of excessive androgen (e.g. Testosterone) exposure during any of several stages of development.
(See: "Gender Differences in Financial Risk Aversion and Career Choices are Affected by Testosterone," by Paola Sapienzaa, Luigi Zingalesb and Dario Maestripieric; PNAS 2009, published ahead of print August 24, 2009, doi:10.1073/pnas.0907352106)

Intelligence and career-mindedness are two DIFFERENT traits. This book seems to imply/assert that mothers who work part-time are somehow less intelligent than women who pursue their careers full-throttle. I therefore honestly believe that this book is misogynistic at its core. It degrades women who choose to focus their lives on being the caring mothers that are the most valuable assets of any society. Being a mother to one's own children is MORE important than spending one's whole day pushing paper and thinking of ways to lie and distort information for a client's lawsuit.

Very smart women are more likely to have very smart children. Smart women DON'T abandon their smart children to a daycare center. Smart women NURTURE their smart children THEMSELVES because they are able to understand the value of their own child's well-being, and they realize that THEY are the MOST qualified to take care of their own children, which they often consider to be the fundamental source of their own life's pleasure and purpose.

Frankly, I'm confused--isn't the point of the career (and its money) ULTIMATELY about having the choice to live the type of life that one wants? Aren't one's children ultimately the source of some of life's greatest pleasures? Why would a mother spend her life working on a career if she could afford to spend her time with her own children?


Therefore, and additionally, as a (highly intelligent) male (who scored an almost perfect score on his SATs), I'm sorry(!), but I'll take the smart girl who has a history of doing well in school growing up, who did well on her SATs, went to college, and loves to read now that she's working LESS than 40-50 hours a week at a nonprofit, in human resources, marketing, management, consulting, etc. and does all this only because she's waiting to be able to finally take the part of a woman in a male-female relationship.

You know what that is, right? A woman? I see it as encompassing the following: beautiful, resourceful, caring, nurturing. Maybe it would be someone who'd rather work only part-time or not at all so as to be able to stay at home and do what would REALLY be the most important job in the world--raising our children?!? And, if I'm working full-time, I'd like someone to be there to take care of me in an emotionally supportive way. I'm sure there are people who would prefer the exact opposite, but I'm not one of them. Neither are most of my male friends.

Sorry, but most men are looking for a wife, not a business partner...


Yes, that's right. I'm the type of man that this book is supposed to be discussing (--I even skipped a grade when I was younger--), and I DON'T agree with this book. Frankly, in all my dating, I don't think I've ever really been as happy as when I had a girlfriend of only moderately above-average intelligence. Other personal qualities play a much bigger role than whether a woman is supposed to be "smart." Frankly, in my experience, many (but not all) of the self-described "intelligent" women who I have encountered in my lifetime were carrying around psychological issues.

In any case, I DO want to marry a "smart" woman, but ultimately, the real reason I hope to marry a woman of significantly above-average intelligence in the near future is that I want to maximize my chances of having extremely intelligent children. I don't *need* a woman to be a genius, and frankly, I DON'T want a self-obsessed, high-testosterone "career woman" as a wife. If that's you, I wish you well. There are many benefits to being a strong, career-driven woman, but that's not what I am personally looking for in MY spouse. I hope you can appreciate my candor. After all, I hope that's what you were looking for in this review.

So I'll say it again: Firstly, intelligence and career-mindedness are two DIFFERENT traits. Secondly, why would any "smart" woman choose to abandon her children to a daycare center if she could afford to raise her children herself? Lastly, intelligent and/or career-driven women seem to want a man that has it all, or at least one that has more than they do. But, say a man DID have it all, do you really think that he'd need (-or want?-) you to have that powerful career as a Managing Director at Bank of America??

So I hope you appreciate my honesty, because SOMEONE has got to tell you the truth, and it sure as h*ll isn't going to be the author of this book...
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on April 30, 2007
It is wonderful to read such good news, especially in light of the recent widely publicized English/Scottish study which reported that women with higher IQs were less likely to marry. I applaud Dr. Whelan for the strides she has made to reverse the common misconception about high achieving women's chances of marrying, and the propagation of such myths as a "40 year old single woman is more like to be killed by a terrorist than to marry". I was fed up with hearing the media state over and again that women shouldn't wait so long to get married, as though they were to blame in some way. It is heartening to learn from Dr. Whelan that women who excel academically and in their careers are just as likely to get married, but it just takes longer, and that there is nothing wrong with that! I couldn't recommend this book more highly (also for the mothers of Strong Women Achievers No Spouse!): not only is Dr. Whelan the bearer of great news, but she provides a tremendous, lively read.
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