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Too smart to have kids – a modern woman’s dilemma?

Ahlya Fateh

Published: Updated:

Last week we received news from yet another study created to make all women stop in their collective tracks whether shod in comfy Converse or sky-high Louboutins – the higher a woman’s IQ the less likely she is to want children. Or so says London School of Economics researcher Satoshi Kanazawa....a man who maintains that women lose a quarter of their urge to have children with every 15 extra IQ points.

Many broadsheets and tabloids in the UK have taken up this statistic with enthusiasm giving celebrity examples like Cameron Diaz who is quoted as saying “I have the life I have because I don’t have children.” Now is that a good thing or a bad thing? Not to mention my personal favourite, Eva Mendes, with her passionate desire not to procreate, “I don’t want kids, I love sleep and I worry about everything.”

All over the world women are overwhelmed with choices, whether it is to further their education, earn a living and provide for their parents or siblings, marry or not, have a family or not.

Ahlya Fateh

Well, time to confess: I have two children, which probably makes me sub-human on the intelligence scale and I will admit a fair few brain cells have been obliterated by childbirth along the way. I, like Ms. Mendes, LOVE sleep but admit that due to worrying about everything I haven’t had a good night’s rest since 2004. I believe in every woman’s right to choose her own path and to know that you don’t want to be a parent must be liberating in many ways. However, I have two daughters who I want to educate to the best of their capabilities and passionately wish for them to develop both mentally and professionally but does this mean I am educating them out of wanting to be mothers themselves? Furthermore if educated women decide not to have children what does this mean for the future of our society as a whole? At one of my university interviews, I was asked “Why should we give you a place here if all you are going to do is get married and have children?”

When I had recovered from the shock of hearing something so archaic, I answered that if nothing I would raise intelligent and socially adept children who would grow up into achieving adults whose taxes would keep him in his old age!

Change in the Middle East

In the Middle East changes are on their way too; in Tunisia, Algeria and Lebanon only 1-5% of women aged between 15 and 19 are married and the percentage of women aged 35-39 who have never married now ranges from 15-21%. Qatari author Amal al-Malki attributes this wave of later marriage and non-marriage to education,” which is a factor as well as independence, financial independence. Women are not dependent anymore on men so the whole institution of marriage has changed.” In the East marriage and children are inextricably linked whereas in the West many single women who eschewed motherhood in their twenties and thirties, possibly put off by their high IQs , suddenly approach their forties and realise they do want to have children after all. It is then that one’s options are limited.

All over the world women are overwhelmed with choices, whether it is to further their education, earn a living and provide for their parents or siblings, marry or not, have a family or not – perhaps that is what Dr. Kanazawa meant by his research. Which super educated woman faced with all the negative stereotyping about child rearing would willingly sacrifice herself on that altar? But I can assure you smarter-than-smart girls who are thinking of passing on babies, diapers and 3am feeds....Ladies , you have no idea what you are missing!

I have many friends who are unmarried and have chosen not to have children and are genuinely happy with their decisions; I also know many who want to be parents quite desperately. Recently one of my best friends became a mother – over the years we have debated the pros and cons of whether she should or shouldn’t have a baby. I am sure my horror stories have played a part in her reticence over the years and throughout her pregnancy we have discussed what makes you ready to be a mother or not. Finally the day came and the wait was over, I received a text while I was in New York, “He has arrived and I am so in love with him.” This told me everything I needed to know; there is a mother in all of us, she’s just waiting to be born and it doesn’t have a thing to do with her IQ.

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With extensive publishing experience and significant knowledge of the fashion, retail and luxury industries, Ahlya Fateh is currently a highly regarded senior executive who combines a strong creative vision with an astute strategic understanding and exceptional management skills. In 2010 Ahlya was brought in by Tata Naka as Managing Director to re-launch the fashion brand at London Fashion Week. Previously Ahlya was Managing Editor of Tatler magazine from 2001 to 2010.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.