Do men find intelligent women attractive? A good many men would probably say, of course they do. However, if you asked women the same question, an equal number would say it simply isn’t true. And curiously, they would both be right, according to an article published in 2015 in Personality and Social Psychology magazine.
Of the 28 women who have been directors of a Fortune 500 company, 26 are married, one is divorced and one is single
Lora Park, a social psychologist from the University of Buffalo, and her colleagues Ariana Young and Paul Eastwick, carried out research to establish what happens to men when they are with a woman they believe to be of superior intelligence. Initially, the men were asked their opinion on a hypothetical woman who is better at math and English. All the men in the study said she would be a desirable romantic long-term partner.
The researchers then set the men up in a number of “real-life” situations in which the woman actually showed herself to be more intelligent. Curiously, the woman ceased to be so attractive in the men’s eyes, with some even admitting to feeling insecure in her company.
Perhaps you know women who feel their intelligence is stopping them from finding or keeping a partner. It’s also possible you know men who proudly stand behind the professional success of their female partners. In fact, one of the keys to professional success is having a supportive partner, according to Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook. And, of the 28 women who have been directors of a Fortune 500 company, 26 are married, one is divorced and one is single.
When confidence levels are high, both men and women feel less threatened by what others say or do
But there are men who still feel insecure and threatened by smart women, a disposition often related to their own lack of self-esteem and maturity. And the changes in today’s society are throwing up new fears and changing male-female dynamics, with many of the old references no longer relevant. The key to addressing these fears is to improve self-knowledge and so boost levels of self-confidence. When confidence levels are high, both men and women feel less threatened by what others say or do.
Another key is to work on the emotional intelligence of our children, thereby preparing them for change and compromise. Meanwhile, couples need to start finding points of connection and collaboration. It’s the only way we’ll learn to accept shifting gender roles and genuine equality.
English version by Heather Galloway.