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Women in the Law

Women Lawyers Have Higher Divorce Rates, Need Loving Husbands, Researcher Says

Posted Apr 1, 2008 6:17 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A researcher has found that young female lawyers and other women professionals have slightly higher divorce rates than their male counterparts.

Law professor Robin Fretwell Wilson of Washington & Lee University is the author of the study. She says her study indicates that "women can't have it all because there is a social stigma to having or being a stay-at-home spouse."

Wilson spoke with the Wall Street Journal about her findings, based on her analysis of 100,000 young professionals in business, law and medicine. She found that 10 percent of women with law degrees were divorced, compared to 7 percent of male lawyers.

Wilson’s study, which will be released next week, also found that female professionals are up to three times more likely to remain unmarried than men.

Economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett, who conducted research on high-achieving women in 2001, theorizes that highly educated women have higher divorce rates than their male counterparts because they are attracted to successful men, and can’t give these men the care and support they need.

Hewlett has this advice for well-educated, high-earning women: Look for a husband who is particularly loving and supportive.

Story corrected at 1:53 p.m. April 4 to reflect that economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett theorized that successful women are not giving their mates the support they need. Paragraph added to story and lead expanded at 10:33 a.m. on April 5.

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