House and a Picket Fence, Without the Husband

Monday, 28 December 2009 11:33 Written by  Ebony Hall

The 1950’s traditions of women taking the full time job of staying at home to bear the children, cook, and clean the house is no longer established in this day in age. Many women are not depending on a man to support them. The trend of getting a college degree and successfully taking on elite careers has increased over the years, especially in terms of African American women. Even though all of these women have the prosperous life, the majority of them are not sharing the wealth with a family.


MSNBC’s Brian Alexander interviewed Yale researcher, Hannah Brueckner, who discovered that between the ages of 22 and 45, 38 percent of successful, African American women are not married. It appears that half of the women surveyed feel as if it is too much of a risk to their careers to settle down and start a family. Others want a family but feel men are not capable of reaching their standards.

Many reasons are given when you ask a woman why she is not married, but some are more common than the others. Most women are looking for a man who they feel has the same goals and aspirations as them. Whether it is having an elite job like them or similar characteristics, most women don’t want to settle for less.

A possible reason why African American women are not getting married is that they are not dating outside their race. Even though some women do not have a problem dating outside their race, most have not because “many African American women have a fear of dating outside their race because they haven’t been introduced to that culture,” said to Kim Gartner. Gartner, 40, will soon celebrate 20 years of marriage with her husband, who happens to be Caucasian. Gartner has her BA in advertising sales and is currently working as a senior account manager. When asked if there was a difference between dating someone of her own race verses someone outside of it, she says no. Gartner grew up in a mostly Caucasian neighborhood and never saw color when it came to the men she dated.

Patricia Gray, 49, who works as a counselor for a criminal rehabilitation center and has a BA in criminal justice, has never dated outside her race. Despite the fact, she said, “I don't have problem with other races. If he's the right guy, he can be purple. As long as he's intelligent and a guy that will treat me right and take me out. I haven't met anyone that interest me outside my race, or at least they haven't came to me yet.”

On the other hand, Schonté Hamilton, 31, has dated outside her race and believes, “there is a difference in expectations and roles, as many African American men view traditional roles or values while other races have pretty much abandoned those old traditions.”

While race may be the cause, men being intimidated by these achieving women is part of it also. The majority of the women interviewed feel that most of the men are intimidated by their success, and therefore relationships are hard to keep. Gartner, even being married, feels that her husband can get intimidated by her career at times. “There is an underlining competition between men and women on who makes more. But still we want the pants and apron on at the same time.”

Some women believe men are going to be intimidated whether they are successful or not, but to avoid some of this, they also believe in raising their requirements for the men they date. Gartner says before meeting her husband she require men to be, very goal orientated, someone who shared the same goals that she did, was college-focused and driven, had a plan for his future, and who had something to offer her. She also said that she knew in her mind who she wanted to be, and someone who had surpassed what she was "going to become" was key to her.

Similar to Gartner’s past requirements of men she dated, Gray and Hamiliton also look for men that have the same qualities they have. Gray believes education is a key attribute required from men she dates and she prefers men with a “PhD or Masters because [she] will have her masters soon, so therefore [his] standards should be higher than mine.” Hamilton said she requires a man to be "confident,” and have “good morals, be financially stable, independent, and ambitious.” Otherwise, men who have mediocre attributes are easily to get intimidated, which can cause a relationship to end.

The fact that women are so focused on their education and career leads some to feel that they don't have time for marriage. Hamilton is an example of this, with working a full time job and managing her upcoming girl group GeneSys, dating is not that important to her at this time in her life. This may be the case for many young women who are just starting off in their careers. Women who are older tend to want to settle down, but are willing to wait for the right man. Gray, who is willing to settle down, said, “everyone should have someone to settle down with after a success” but for those who don't want to or are younger she believes, “When you're engulfed in your  education and work, it's very hard to keep a relationship because one has to be neglected.”

When asked about the 38 percent of African American women that are single, not one of the women thought this was a surprise. In fact, Hamilton  thought the statistics were higher. Gray said, “what [women] have built up and worked for can be taken away from them when getting married.” Gartner believes that African American women are “continuing to move forward," atating that "we are not waiting, and if we have to move forward alone then it will be.”

So is it wrong for women to neglect a marriage for a prosperous career? No at all, according to Gartner. She feels that women should “do whatever [they] want to, go for it. Whatever [they] choose to do, do it 100 and have peace in that.”

Even though Gartner supports all the successful women she said she “At the end of the day I would take my non-Benz driving [married] life over [the] Benz driving [single] life.”


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Photography by GMO Photo Editor Billy Montgomery.

Ebony Hall

Ebony Hall

Ebony Hall is a Columbia College student and a writer for GMO. Born in the outskirts of Chicago, she is focused on getting her bachelor’s degree in journalism.

She can be contacted at