The best-educated women are opting out of the workforce for motherhood in numbers higher than female graduates from lower-ranked schools. At least one journalist has said these women are wasting an opportunity, and that good schools should screen applicants for women who are intelligent and credentialed as well as “ambitious.” In other words, they must be committed to pursuing career rather than family and home.
I beg to differ.
Far from being a waste, a good education enhances motherhood. Good study habits, the ability to communicate, exposure to great ideas, and logical reasoning are all important to motherhood. Indeed, as Emily pointed out yesterday, motherhood is the biggest research project upon which you will ever embark. It requires interdisciplinary learning, extensive reading, application, experimentation, analysis, and frequent management meetings and expert consultation (aka play dates and phone calls to other mothers). As Suzanne Venker notes in her book, 7 Myths of Working Mothers:
Recent studies have shown—as common sense would conclude—that children who are raised by mothers with advanced degrees and previous work experience have advantages over those whose mothers do not have such backgrounds….Motherhood is an opportunity to impart our knowledge, wisdom, and experience to another human being. Children are eager for everything we have to offer. The better educated we are, the better educated our children will be.
The irony of educated women hiring out their duties is that their replacements are often less educated. As Venker notes, “nannies and day care providers are not positions commonly sought by women with advanced degrees.” Of course, the very wealthy will pay six figures for good nannies. Even less well-appointed parents constantly worry about finding and keeping “quality” child care.
The highest quality child care is right under their noses: an educated mother who loves her children unconditionally, who has their best interest at heart, and who can be a constant in their lives. Why pay for a copy when the original is available?