Many people do not know what they are getting into when they start medical school. From my own informal poll of my classmates, 50% of them would not become a doctor if they knew what they know now. (You can read about the price of becoming a doctor here.)
But did you know that women pay a higher price than men to become a medical doctor. No? Well, you’re not alone. Most women do not even realize the full extent of what they are giving up to achieve their dream.
This sacrifice goes beyond money and time. It deals with a woman’s future family — or lack there of. A female doctor is less likely to marry than the average female.
Why? One word: hypergamy (or marrying up).
Hypergamy in Action
Women would prefer to marry a guy that is more successful, makes more money, has a higher status, is taller, and is better educated.
As a doctor, few people will earn more. Few people will be as educated. Few people will be as smart. So the mating pool for a hypergamous female has shrunken significantly. (On the flip-side, male doctors have quite the advantage when it comes to finding a mate, thanks to hypergamy. And because a typical medical school class will have more females than males, that means the supply of male doctors are low, which drives up the demand. Works for me.)
The Disadvantages of Marrying a Female Doctor
Let’s assume that she can find one of those highly desirable guys. She would be competing with many other women for him. Why choose her over a younger, hotter, and less-threatening woman?
A female doctor cannot offer:
- youth: Let’s say she finishes college at 21 years of age. Medical school at 25. A primary care residency at 28. This is not exactly young, for a woman. And this is a best-case scenario. Most likely, the girl would not smoothly transition from college to medical school to residency. And if she chooses to specialize, she could be in her mid-30’s by the time she is a money-making doctor. Mid-30’s is a desirable age for a man, but not so for a woman. The older women get, the harder it is for them to marry.
- fertility: Fertility decreases with age. Birth defects rises with age. If a guy wants a healthy family, there is less risk by choosing a younger woman.
- beauty: I’m not saying that there are no pretty female doctors. But the pretty doctor was probably prettier as a college student. Beauty is very important for most guys. Women’s beauty do hit a brick wall. Look at a young attractive girl and look at her mom. Most likely, there is a big difference for the worse as a woman gets older.
- time: The time preparing to become a doctor is immense and does limit the time she can spend with the guy. A guy would prefer a girl that is available instead of one that is constantly busy. The female doctor is at a disadvantage when it comes to meeting guys — just because she doesn’t have the time to do so. And let’s say that she does not have youth, fertility, nor beauty. But her redeeming factor is her sweet personality. Well, it is very hard for the guy to notice her sweetness if they don’t spend time together.
When looking from a guy’s point of view, a female doctor is not exactly the best catch. Even if the female doctor was willing to forgo hypergamy and marry down, she may have to try very hard to finding someone. Many guys do not want their girls to make more money than them. Many guys do not want their girls to be more educated than them. (Yes, there are some insecure guys out there, but for good reason.) Combine that with my list above, it is not looking good for the female doctors.
Most Relationships Start Before Medical School
From what I have seen, many of my female classmates in a long-term relationship or in a marriage have found their significant other before medical school. Long-term relationships and marriages that are formed during medical school do happen, but they are comparatively rarer.
I remember during one of my rotations, one of the residents (a bitter, bitter woman) shared her concern of remaining alone for the rest of her life. She even asked for my help to send any quality guys her way. The female doctors, who I know for certain are married (and remains married), are either super, super attractive — like a model. Or they are foreign doctors and participated in arranged marriages.
I am absolutely convinced that quite a few of my female classmates will not find a significant other — married only to their jobs. There is nothing wrong with being single and being dedicated to your job. But if they do want to get married (which most girls do want), it is actually quite sad.
Don’t Be Hatin’
I’m writing this not to discourage women from becoming doctors. Au contraire, I promote it. More women doctors means less men doctors. This drives up my value. Out of good conscience and the desire not to see any life ruined by medicine, I write this to help women make the most informed choice — one which will impact them for the rest of their lives.
If you are a female, you can react to this in two ways:
- You can get angry, verbally attack me, and plunge head-first into medicine out of ignorance. You may feel good after doing so, but it does not change your circumstance. Deluding yourself doesn’t hurt me any. It is your life on the line.
- You can thank me for revealing what was previously left unsaid, carefully consider what I wrote, and make a smart decision knowing all the consequences. (I doubt your academic adviser ever talked about this.) If this is the choice you make, you are indeed a wise woman.
You have been informed.
If you want some facts and figures about education and marriage, you can read How the Ascendancy of the Alpha Female Will Impact Marriage.
This article is part of the Get into Medical School series. Click on the link if you want more tips and hints about getting accepted into medical school.