A study shows that only the children of the wealthy conform to stereotypical patterns in which girls dominate as English pros and boys rule as math whizzes. The explanation? The “paradox of high-earning parents.” According to the New York Times (“Where Boys Outperform Girls in Math”), those who are well-educated and wealthy “are more likely to say they hold egalitarian views about gender roles. But they are also more likely to act in traditional ways—father as breadwinner, mother as caregiver.” This mischievous behavior sends subtle messages to their progeny, leading the girls to underperform in math as compared to the boys.
This fascinating claim implies a bit more than the reporters imagine. Consider this argument:
- With greater wealth comes greater material freedom to act upon your desires.
- With greater education comes greater critical consciousness and freedom from generic social stereotypes—which is to say, greater psychological freedom to identify and act upon your desires.
- Add the reported fact: The most wealthy and well-educated American couples tend to fall into traditional sex roles when it comes to work and child-rearing.
Therefore, given 1) and 2), the reported fact suggests that, on average, what men and women really want is an updated form of traditional sex roles.