One Third Of Chinese Men Won’t Marry a Woman With a PhD, Why Not?

One Third Of Chinese Men Won’t Marry a Woman With a PhD, Why Not?
Jan 14, 2014 Translated by

Editor’s Note: With China modernizing at the rate it is, it is sometimes surprising to find younger people who still have traditional mindsets. This translated article looks at a recent hot topic on Chinese social media site, Weibo, concerning the fact that 30% of Chinese men won’t marry a woman with a PhD.

The reporter talks to Xiao Wang, a woman, who along with others, has been labeled as part of a ‘third gender’ because of their PhDs. Xiao Wang seems more bemused than offended, and can’t seem to understand how her academic achievements set her apart from other women.

Xiao Wang, beautiful woman and PhD graduate.
Source: MeinuBoshi

Would you be willing to marry a beautiful female with a PhD? An online poll showed that out of the 6,000 participants, 1,700 said they wouldn’t be able to walk down the aisle with a woman who had a PhD.

Recently discussions of single and beautiful women with PhDs looking for partners have been trending on Weibo, as male Netizens discuss their own qualms over marrying academically successful women. The topic has recently reemerged as these female “caterpillars,” in their 30s, go home for the Chinese New Year on vacation and meet with parents desperate for the daughters to bring home a boyfriend.

Looking for a Partner

One such female PhD graduate is Netizen @毛毛虫Claire, also known as Xiao Wang. A reporter from the Modern Express spoke with her about her views on the recent debate.
Xiao Wang graduated from Nanjing Normal University and went on receive her PhD in chemistry at Leeds University in the UK. She remains at the university as a postdoctoral researcher. Her former head teacher at Nanjing Normal University, Professor Lin, recalled her as a pretty, smart girl. Lin said that Wang, “looked very beautiful, was a class leader and a high achieving student.”

Xiao Wang, while not overly concerned with the opinions of Netizens, is curious why they would not want to marry women who have PhDs.

On her Weibo page, Xiao Wang describes herself as, “Empress Dowager, PhD. A scientific researcher struggling on the front lines of a chemistry lab.” She recently blogged on January 5, participating in the trending discussion, “#WouldyoubewillingtomarryafemalewithaPh.D?” She typed, “I want to know, why so many people are unwilling.”

Xiao Wang has personal experience with this issue. “Someone defrauded my photograph and sent it out online. They put a false ad online with my picture saying that a girl with a PhD was looking for a boyfriend to bring home for the New Year. Despite being single, I have never actually tried to recruit a boyfriend.”

“Women with PhDs are a kind of third gender…”

“I don’t mind the fact that everyone is discussing female PhDs students/graduates on Weibo. I feel that female doctorate holders and ordinary people are the same. I hope that everyone can start to better understand our community,” Xiao Wang said.

“Everyone believes that women with PhDs are a kind of third gender or third type of people. It overwhelms many people. I don’t believe in the idea of this third type of person,” she said. “I myself do not feel that my life is different from the lives of other people. The only difference is the environment I live and work in.”

Chinese registered psychologist and expert Liu Fuliang weighed in on why men are unwilling to marry beautiful women with PhDs. “Men regard women with Ph.Ds. as having one set of specific ‘stereotypical’ characteristics. They see them as a third gender with either a strange temperament or an excessive drive to succeed. Chinese men traditionally see the ideal woman as gentle, soft and virtuous.”

Xiao Wang is puzzled why so many people are unwilling to marry female PhD holders. “I feel that love is just a matter of fate, these things cannot be deliberately forced,” she said.

Men have traditional views about a woman’s role

Netizens came up with various answers why men are unwilling to marry women with PhDs: “The pressure is altogether too high,” and “It is not a compatible match for marriage.” Netizen @维卡explained that because “the gap is too large, there cannot be happiness.” His point of view is that women with PhDs are already scary, and if they are beautiful then they are are even scarier and that “this kind of woman is constantly under pressure.” Netizen shengchangbulou noted that, “not many women can hold this kind of high position.”

Liu explained that many men still “see men as superior to women,” and believe that in a family, a man should make all of the decisions. When women are outstanding, men are unable to dominate. Many men still have an inferiority complex when dealing with extraordinary girlfriends. They feel a lot of pressure and believe that their devotion to their work makes it difficult to balance a career and family life.

When asked about her wishes for a future romantic partner, Xiao Wang spoke level-headedly. “I have not fully thought it through, but I feel that there is nothing unusual about my circumstances. I still believe in the idea of fate.”


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Keywords: marrying academically successful women; women in China; marrying; traditional views Chinese Men Won’t Marry a Woman With a PhD


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Chinese men, dont want their future wife to be smarter than they are (education level, degrees, etc). Its about face. For example, a guy has a BA, the wife has a PHd. All of his friends believe the wife is smarter and earns more money than him, because of her education. TO be a match, woman with PHd, would likely find the best match with men with PHd. Furthermore, woman with PHd, won't want to marry men with only BA/BSc degrees. SO there is a miss match of education degree/status

Aug 24, 2016 10:42 Report Abuse



"Chinese registered psychologist"?! Must mean "passsed totalitarian misogynistic dysfunction 101"

Mar 24, 2015 12:32 Report Abuse



Dear Highly Educated Chinese Women: Find a foreign husband! Sincerely, another highly educated Chinese woman

Feb 01, 2015 02:38 Report Abuse



The fact that Chinese men do not want to marry a beautiful woman with a PhD is laughable. There will be 25 million more men than women of marriageable age by 2020 in China and women and their families are already extorting men for heavy cash dowries before marriage. It's becoming more commonplace for a groom's family to offer as much as US$20,000 in cash, a new apartment, and a new car to the bride's family as dowry before marriage. Without these gifts the bride will simply find someone else to marry. Given this unfortunate situation (due to the surplus of young men caused by the widespread practice of female infanticide) I don't think Chinese men are in a position to demand anything. It's like watching a homeless guy go to a fancy restaurant demanding filet mignon when he only has enough money to buy a burger at McDonald's. Unfortunately, the Chinese custom of treating women like property dictates that there are no dollar menu brides. Because of the gender disparity a potential bride is now like a 3-star Michelin restaurant. You either have the cash to get married or you don't. As a Chinese American woman there are times when I walk around with a level of fury comparable to survivors of Auschwitz (centuries of treating Chinese women like slaves can do that to you). Can Chinese men (and by extension, their families) be any more narcissistic and self-entitled? Is it any wonder that Asian women do not date Asian men?

Mar 29, 2014 19:03 Report Abuse



Chinese men have a certain complex of inferiority, they do not want a woman who's smarter than them, just like they are afraid of women who slept with foreigners because those have bigger dingdongs and Chinese men are afraid they can't compete, or they will not date or marry women who are richer than them because they want her to depend on them and not the opposite. Very stupid "competition" mindset in which they want the woman to think that they are the best in everything, extremely common in China.

Mar 06, 2014 07:46 Report Abuse



Zombies and I have one thing in common. We both like women big brains!

Feb 20, 2014 12:55 Report Abuse



Why not? No face. Their already low self-esteem can't take it.

Jan 19, 2014 11:26 Report Abuse



Chinese men want an agreeable, quiet, pretty girl who does what she's told and won't complain when they decide to keep another girl on the side.

Jan 18, 2014 20:15 Report Abuse



Where will these Chinese guys find these quiet, obedient girls? With the surplus of young men and dwindling number of single women can you please explain where a guy will find a "another girl on the side"? Does he have a an additional car, house, and US $20,000 to pay the "girl on the side"? Because he will have to pay her this or even more because that is the average price of her dowry. If he can't pay there will be another young man's family who can. Who are these guys that can afford "another girl on the side"? Unless they specifically look for a prostitute most men do not have the money to afford a "girl on the side". Are you even aware of the gender imbalance in China?

Oct 10, 2014 00:45 Report Abuse



What the hell does gender imbalance have to do with this? there are many who can afford a girl on the side. Some even send them to Canada. Most use their parent's money. How should I know where to find them? Buy a Lamborghini and drive it, that's how you find them. If I cannot find them, does that prove they do not exist? Are you five years old?

Oct 10, 2014 07:19 Report Abuse



@bill8899: "gender imbalance" here means that there are fewer young women of marriageable age than young men (see the statistics on female infanticide). And when backwards Chinese notions about women dictate that all women over the age of 27 are "spinsters" and thus unmarriageable, the actual number of women that a man can marry is in fact extremely low. So, given the low number of "marriageable" women who are already fielding offers of possibly very large dowries, who are these prostitutes that you speak of?

Feb 01, 2015 02:53 Report Abuse



DNDAR - Does not deserve a reply, but I will reply anyway. 4Blossoms, Smart women, especially attractive women with PhDs, should be the most desirable, but local men want servants, not wives, regardless of gender imbalance. Like you said, they want 'quiet, obedient girls'. Servants. That is the problem. Gender imbalance is another issue. Gee! Thanks for informing about 'gender imbalance'. I already knew that, and it is irrelevant. Where are the hookers? Check into a cheap hotel in Shanghai and you will get cards with phones numbers for six to ten different girls. If you want to believe they don't exist, no problem. Some local guys have a girl or two on the side. You don't believe it? OK. The rich guys used to come to the uni I worked at on Friday to pick up their *friends*. I'm sure they just visit gardens and sip tea all weekend. Why did that lottery winner hide his identity from his family? You know his mistress is living it up now. He might have two? Not my fault reality bites.

Feb 02, 2015 01:22 Report Abuse



Actually most of the men dun really wan their wifeys to be academically higher than them and only a handful can handle it. Be it in China or whole world and thats a fact.

Jan 17, 2014 12:40 Report Abuse



No redneck comments, please.

Oct 10, 2014 00:35 Report Abuse



hmm awesome comments, but i don't buy this analogy in this age of science.

Jan 16, 2014 17:10 Report Abuse



i believe that there is also a certain stigma that female PHD's had to sleep with professors in order to obtain their position...

Jan 16, 2014 15:18 Report Abuse



Wow, you are as sexist as the men that won't date a woman with a PhD. None of the women I know who are earning their PhD in computer science or mathematics has ever slept with a professor for a good grade, but I know a male PhD student who slept with a female professor to earn an 'A' in Discrete Math.

Oct 10, 2014 00:34 Report Abuse



Interesting article. However, it's not very new phenomenon in China. I heard much stories like that in the past few years. Chinese mentality is really too narrow minded and so much conventional. I would be happy to have such woman. It would be a woman can develop a critical thinking and debate with arguments (very rare in china because chinese education system is a test oriented system not a system where people use their brain). However, You can think this article in other way, I don't think much PHD chinese women will agree to be with a man socially below them especially because in modern chinese society they're very materialistic people!

Jan 15, 2014 22:39 Report Abuse



Hey send em over my way, I loves me some smart chicks. :)

Jan 14, 2014 16:03 Report Abuse



I am a girl in Guilin. I am not a professional guide, but I have worked in yangshuo as a hotel manager for 4 months, so I know very much about yangshuo. My English is pretty good, caus I have studied in australia for 2 years. Since my new work will start in March, I have plenty free time in the next 2 months. If u r a foreign traveler and need guide help, please feel free to contact me, I would be a very good private guide. My email adress: I Would be very pleasure to be helpful. Wish u a nice day.

Jan 14, 2014 15:10 Report Abuse



Do you have a PhD?

Jan 14, 2014 21:17 Report Abuse



I know you are looking for a ticket out of the backwaters of China by posting this and I do not blame you. I hope one day China's economy thrives enough so you don't have to degrade yourself by marrying foreign men for American or European citizenship.

Oct 10, 2014 00:53 Report Abuse



Guest your assumptions on the reasons Chinese women marry Western men are completely wrong. Well I suppose that you are one of those masculine Asian men or some frustrated ABC. Maybe if Chinese men stopped treating their women like personal belongings or objects, less Chinese women would marry Foreign men.

Jan 12, 2016 19:48 Report Abuse



Insecurity is insecurity. I would LOVE having a Chinese woman with a legitimate PHD... then I could finally engage in some intelligent, stimulating conversation.

Jan 14, 2014 11:59 Report Abuse



They don't want a wife who is probably smarter or has a better job. No need to write an article about it, it's pretty obvious. Probably not a problem specific to China though.

Jan 14, 2014 11:31 Report Abuse