“It’s amazing how forgiving men can be about a woman’s lack of erudition, if she is exceptionally pretty”
This is a quote from Susan Patton—mom, Princeton grad, and entrepreneur—encouraging young Princeton women to lock down a husband while still in college (link below). And as she says, women don’t have this same luxury when choosing their men.
THE HORROR! Some of you have reacted with outrage. And I understand. Some women don’t want to get married, others don’t want children.
But Mrs. Patton wasn’t speaking to those women. She was offering advice, later she said as a Jewish mother would, to more traditionally minded women. Women who want a husband, a career, a family—and who have the great misfortune of having a high IQ and a big drive. Well, RSM girls, as your pseudo-Jewish mom, I hope you’re listening.
It’s tough out there for smart women, for driven women. Professional life comes with challenges that are particular to womanhood. Once a month we struggle with migraines, spiking emotions, and general discomfort. We carry children for 9 months, and many of us spend a lot of that time feeling sick to our stomach. Sometimes on an hourly basis. Try to be functional in a boardroom with a feeling like that! Then, when our child finally arrives, breast-feeding begins. I conducted a meeting when my son was 10 months old, and suddenly I noticed that my breast was leaking onto the engineering drawing I was presenting. Fun! These are just biological truths, part of the massive challenge facing women pursuing stellar careers.
And while a smart woman bulldozes her way through all of that and more in order to succeed, she’ll find that support from her husband is crucial. But in order to support her he has to be proud of her. Not compete with her, and not be threatened by her intellect. And as Mrs. Patton says, it often takes an equal intellect to do that, to find a sharp woman sexy—not intimidating.
Smart girls, this is a challenge all of you will inevitably face. You need to marry a smart man to have a balanced life. Mrs. Patton spoke directly to you. Live up to your intellect and open your mind to her words. Unfortunately in today’s world, having a high IQ for a woman is problematic. And as with any problem, you’ll be better off if you’re acutely aware of it early in life.
Mrs. Rifkin with love.