A new anthropological study has found that women with high levels of education are choosing to freeze their eggs because they haven’t met a partner who is equally well-educated.
Researchers at Yale studied a group of 150 women in the US and Israel who had chosen to freeze their eggs and found that 90 percent of participants were single or unmarried. They also found 81 percent of these women were college-educated.
Although it is often theorised that women freeze their eggs so they can concentrate on their careers, researchers say this study indicates a completely different reason.
They say many of these women are unable to find a partner who has the same level of education and have decided to put off having a family until they do.
They refer to this phenomenon as “missing men”.
“There is a major gap - they are literally missing men. There are not enough college graduates for them. In simple terms, this is an oversupply of educated women," said Marcia Inhorn, a Professor of Anthropology at Yale and author of the study.
“Most women who are educated would like to have an educated partner. Traditionally women have also wanted to "marry up", to go for someone more successful, financially well off,” she added.
While more women are being educated to college level than ever before, the number of men in third-level education has fallen. According to university admissions service UCAS, 36.8 percent of women entered higher education last year, compared to 27.2 percent of men.
Speaking at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Geneva, Switzerland Professor Inhorn said that down through the years, people have developed misconceptions about why women choose to freeze their eggs.
“I think this is an issue that has been misinterpreted so much - this idea of a selfish career woman, putting her fertility on hold," she said.
"As a feminist, I think it’s great that women are doing so well but I think there has been a cost that has been paid," she added.
She said it was worth examining both women’s reasoning for holding out for an educated partner and the reasons why fewer men are entering education.
“It may be about rethinking the way we approach this,” she said.
What do you think mums? Was education an important factor to you when choosing a partner to have a family with? Let us know your thoughts on the matter.