Role reversal: men want babies, women like independence

Last Updated 07 February 2011, 10:46 IST

The study of over 5,000 American adults found that more than half of single men want to have children compared to just 46 per cent of women.The results revealed the effects of the growing gender role reversal, said Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University and a chief scientific adviser at dating website, which commissioned the study.

"We've seen since the beginning of the industrial revolution that men and women have growing economic equality," Fisher told LiveScience.

"But now we're starting to see much more of how men are interested in attachment and commitment and how interested women are in preserving some of their independence."
The Internet-based survey, conducted by a team from Rutgers University in New Jersey and Binghamton University in New York, interviewed about 5,200 people, aged 21 to 65, from across the country. They were asked more than 100 questions about their relationships and preferences.

The findings, Fisher said, busted a number of gender stereotypes. Among single people who don't currently have a child, 24 per cent of men say they want kids, compared with 15 per cent of women.

It also found that while more than half of single men aged 21 to 35 wanted kids, only 46 per cent of the women did.

Men were also more likely to report falling hard and fast: 54 per cent said they'd experienced love at first sight. Only 41 per cent of women said the same.

Significant chunks of singles hold with relatively modern ideas about gender roles. When asked whether women should be the primary caregiver for children, 49 per cent of women said no, as did 38 per cent of men.

"Women are much more eager to have their own personal space, they're more eager to have their own bank account, they are more eager to have nights out with girls than men are with boys' nights out, and they're more eager to go on vacation without their partner than men are," Fisher said.

The survey also found that being single is not what it used to be. Among single people between the ages of 21 and 34, 62 per cent of both men and women want to get married, while 9 per cent do not want to marry and 29 per cent are not sure.

Stephanie Coontz, a social historian at The Evergreen State College in Washington, said the stigma of singlehood is lessened today and marriage and re-marriage is much easier for older people.

"As a result people still want to get married, but don't feel as much urgency about it," she said."We are redefining love relationships," Fisher said, adding, "It's going to be very interesting to watch the trends change."

(Published 07 February 2011, 10:42 IST)

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