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Young women choosing careers over love

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  • Study: Young women more likely to choose career over love
  • Men in college more likely to put relationships first
  • Expert: Love, children more likely to disrupt women's careers
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By Jocelyn Voo
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(LifeWire) -- Olga Boyko, 23, has finished her studies at Antioch College and will be graduating in the spring. But she isn't putting her career on hold while she waits for her boyfriend of more than two years to graduate.

"Though I'm not planning on breaking up with my boyfriend, I am leaving him behind in Ohio," says Boyko, who's aiming for work in the publishing industry. "It's hard to get your foot in the door of the field I want to work in. And let's face it: Nowadays you have to cover your butt if you want to make it anywhere."

Romance versus career

When it comes to work versus romance, the stereotype has been that men put a premium on career goals while women focus more on family and friends. Not so, according to a study published recently in the scientific journal "Gender Issues."

Men were more willing than women to sacrifice achievement for a romantic relationship, according to the study conducted by Catherine Mosher of Duke University Medical Center and Sharon Danoff-Burg at the University of Albany.

Researchers asked 237 undergraduates to rate the importance of goals such as financial success, career, education and contribution to society, as well as goals such as romantic relationships, marriage, children and friendship.

While 51 percent of the women prioritized romantic relationships over achievement goals, more than 61 percent of men did the same.

Adam Turner might count himself in that camp. When his girlfriend visited him at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, he wanted to spend as much time with her as possible to fortify their budding relationship -- even if that meant missing three classes, one with a quiz and a test review.

"I was not doing very well in the class to begin with, and the grade I made on that test did not help me at all," says the 20-year-old junior, who is studying aviation flight and management. "It was a stupid move on my behalf, of course, but honestly, well worth it."

Changing dynamics

Psychologist Ellen Klosson, in private practice in Washington, D.C., says this study may be more about the evolving relationship between women and the workplace than their preference for work over romance. It also points to the effect of family on career.

"For men, romance, then marriage, then children may be unlikely to lead to the interruption of their career," Klosson says. "For women, having children is likely to be more disruptive to their career."

Career-oriented women have been putting marriage and children on hold for decades, she notes.

"Women have been aware of the time pressure to establish themselves in a career before starting a family, because of the difficulty of starting this task in their thirties and forties," she says. "I think what we are seeing in this study is the solidification of this trend"

Changes in family economics likely play a role, too. Now that most families have dual incomes, Klosson says, "men may feel more freed up to prioritize as they did in this study. There is less pressure, because of a shift in their role definition, to put their careers first."

Boyko, for one, is fine with the shift in roles.

"Honestly, if he said, 'Stay and wait for me to finish, or it's over,' I'd start packing early." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

LifeWire provides original and syndicated lifestyle content to Web publishers. Jocelyn Voo is a freelance journalist and relationships editor at the New York Post.

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