men, women, and advice-seeking

95% of the time, when someone writes in with a question about a situation that their spouse or significant other is dealing with, it’s a woman writing in on behalf of her boyfriend or husband. It’s nearly never a man writing in on behalf of his girlfriend or wife.

Is it because it’s a care-taking behavior? Or because women are generally (generally, not always) more socialized than men to share feelings and problems? Or something else?


{ 129 comments… read them below }

  1. Becky*

    I think it’s mostly option 2 with maybe a handful of option 1 (although you can usually tell those letters). I think that women think it’s more socially acceptable to crowd source information like this. Speaking in generalities, of course.

    1. Jamie*

      I adore my husband, but like many of the men in my family if he has a problem he will fix it himself. If he can’t fix it himself he just decides it wasn’t really a problem to begin with.

      He is a very calm and happy man – if I could adopt his approach to problems I would. I worry enough for 10 people.

      Weird thing, between the two of us he’s more likely to ask for directions – which isn’t often but more than the 0% of the time I’ll do it.

      1. Patti*

        Or… we have already given them tons of advice and they don’t take it, so we look for validation and/or backup.

        1. Michelle*

          Yeah, this is it in my case at least (Husband asks for advice, I provide it….yet he keeps complaining and never tries any of my suggestions). In the past I’ve said “My advice is X and here’s an AAM article to support it.” I’d never write in though – it’s not my place. But then again, I’m also lacking in the “nurturing” and “care-taking” areas :)

    1. Amanda B*

      I think this is probably the catalyst for the emails but I think women actually DO write in (rather than remain silent as most men) because of option 2.

    2. Kristi*

      Agree, although to be fair I know plenty of women who prefer to complain about problems instead of dealing with them.

      I think women do tend to slip into care taker mode (as Alison describes) pretty easily only because we’re using to solving problems. Friends tell me they send in their husbands resumes for jobs because their husbands won’t, and I don’t get it. But these friends also end up making doctors appointments for their husbands because the men won’t, and I just write it all off to mothering-mode.

      1. Laura L*

        Ugh. I would never ever stay with a someone who needs to be mothered in their relationship. So annoying.

    3. Josh S*

      Wow. I don’t tend to think of men or women as a “complainer” vs a “problem solver”. It’s not a gendered thing–there’s plenty of men AND plenty of women who complain, and plenty of them both who look for solutions.

      I’d be VERY reluctant to stereotype men (or women) as complainers-not-solvers.

      1. Josh S*

        I’ll rephrase:

        I think that women tend (tendency, not absolute) to be more aligned toward dealing with and solving interpersonal problems, which is what a lot of the stuff that AAM deals with is about–managers & underlings, coworker issues, etc.

        I think that men tend (tendency, not absolute) to be more aligned toward dealing with and solving process or system problems, which gets dealt with here much less frequently–metrics and systems and SOPs and the like.

        So I guess I see what you’re saying about men just ‘complaining’ about interpersonal stuff, though I’ve seen much more of it where the guys just suck it up or ignore it or consider it irrelevant to the ‘work’ (which IMO ignores a significant portion of human existence, namely the emotional-social factor).

        Perhaps this is due to guys having a lower EQ than women?

    4. fposte*

      That’s interesting–a big part of the Deborah Tannen work on gender communication styles focused on the frequency with which women felt shut down by their partners who offered solutions instead of active listening.

      1. Rana*

        In our house, I’m usually the problem-solver and poor listener. But, then, we’re also a couple where I order the steak and he orders the chicken salad, and he remembers the birthdays and I fix the clogged sink and replace the car wipers.

        It’s also useful to remember that these are broad trends, and not predictive, especially at the individual level.

        So rather than thinking “Oh, she’s a woman, so I need to be be a caring listener” it’s better to think “Oh, she’s Susan, so I need to be a caring listener” or “Oh, she’s Emily, so I need to offer solutions” or even “Oh, she’s Emily, and while she usually prefers me to offer solutions, this time she just wants me to listen.”

        (Not saying that you, fposte, needs to know that, but just saying because it seems like a communications version of “Oh, Mother’s Day is coming up, time to buy flowers and chocolate” even when the mother in question is allergic to flowers and would prefer a good whiskey.)

    5. BCW*

      I just want to point out that if a guy posted something like, generalizing about women, it would not be taken very well.

        1. starts & ends with A*

          Eh. Disagreed. I would also say it’s a pretty passive aggressive way to deal with not knowing how to ask someone politely to f’ing let it drop already. “I was right and this expert told me so” is a bitchy thing to do. So there. I also just said something not 100% sweet and nice about women, myself included! :)

  2. Kelly*

    Oh boy. I don’t know what the deal is, but this really touches a nerve with me. I can’t tell you how many resumes I get from wives on behalf of their husbands. I won’t even consider them.

    1. K.*

      Wait, for real? Women apply for jobs on their husbands’ behalf? This is a thing that happens? I wouldn’t consider them either!

    2. Jamie*

      I’ve gotten this to – immediate no pile.

      There are too many people out there who want a job, I’m not going to jump through hoops for someone who can’t even be bothered to send in their own resume.

      To be fair it’s not only wives for husbands – I’ve also seen girlfriends for boyfriends and mothers for sons.

      1. Michelle*

        I don’t know whether to laugh or scream in the case of moms applying on behalf of their kids.

        Sometimes it’s not laziness on the part of the kids though. Sometimes it’s done on the sly. A couple of years ago, my MIL called up an Important Person in my husband’s industry and “networked” on his behalf. My husband and I were livid when we found out!

        I can’t be sure what motivated her to do this, but she did *everything* for her kids when they were young and may feel 1) left out of important decisions and/or 2) that they’re doing it wrong and she knows best.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Reminds me of that episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where Marie went behind Robert’s back after he was interviewed by the FBI. He didn’t get the job, and she made an appointment with the hiring manager and tried to talk him into it. Did not end well.

        I would KILL my mom if she did something like that to me!

      3. fposte*

        I remember a commenter here a year or so ago who was doing that, because her husband wouldn’t hunt for work on his own. However, this was (understandably) not getting him any work either, so I thought it probably ended up just giving the wife more to be angry about.

    3. Patti*

      No way! And it’s obvious that they’re doing it for someone else? I see email addresses that don’t match the name (like the resume will say John Smith, but the email comes from Alicia Smith), but I just usually assume it’s a shared home email address.

      That would be an immediate disqualifier for me.

      1. Jamie*

        It’s a red flag for me when the email addy doesn’t match – but I’ve seen it where they were totally open about it in the accompanying email/cover letter. My husband/partner/son has experience in XYZ…

        I can’t believe that’s being taught in any employment coaching center anywhere.

        1. Patti*

          These have to be the same men who don’t clean up after themselves in the break room!!

          (For the record, I’m only kidding… don’t want to start a gender war, or, god forbid, start the dirty break room topic).

        2. Hari*

          The email address not matching up with the name would be weird but I probably wouldn’t look too much into. Although I am surprised at the gall of some of these people being open about writing resumes/cover letters for their significant others.

          Not going to lie I’ve definitely written cover letters/resumes for people before but only to help them and I don’t do it from scratch (they have to give me a rough copy to work with and my part basically is to make it sound/look good). I would never send it in on their behalf though, how unprofessional! Jeez, you think the wives/girlfriends/partners would be smart enough to at least make it look like it didn’t come from them. SMH.

      2. Elizabeth*

        My parents’ sole email address until about five years ago (when I finally talked my mom into getting a Gmail account) was from “John Smith &/or Alicia Jones.” It gets the point across that it’s a shared home account, but it’s a bit silly-looking!

    4. Kimmie Sue*

      Me too!!! Years ago, recruited in the light industrial temporary staffing world. I can’t tell you how many mothers and wives called in availability for the men in the life. I felt then, and would now, “like really, do you have the professional maturity to represent our company?”.
      In more recent years, I’ve had senior level (Director) and above candidate’s who’s wives drove the offer & relocation processes. One spouse actually told me “My husband won’t accept this offer until you increase the relocation bonus to X”. My response was, “your husband’s offer will be rescinded if he doesn’t begin to represent himself in this matter”. Our offer was to him not her. They could discuss personally their concerns but to have the gall/nerve or something else to actually call on your husband’s behalf? He ended up declining the offer, which the hiring manager VP was quite happy about (because of the crazy offer behavior).

    5. starts & ends with A*

      My dad lost his job in 2009 (thanks financial crisis) and for the longest time, my mom’s voice said his name on his voicemail. I told him it needed to be changed. Now he’s employed. Of course I take partial credit.

    6. Adam V*

      Do you respond back “I’m sorry, but we only consider applications filed by the actual job seeker” or something similar? Some way of saying “hey, crazy person, if they don’t bother to apply for themselves, we’ll throw it in the trash if you do it for them” ?

    7. Katie*

      Can you give a percentage? I’m trying to get a bead on how “normal” this might be (and then use it as more evidence for the “Marriage? Yeah…no.” case file).

      This phenomenon really bothers me. So much so that I can’t even put it into words.

      1. Jamie*

        I wouldn’t base a decision on marriage based on stats.

        Every marriage is different, you can make it whatever you want it to be. The only thing that matters is that our spouse is of the same mind…how other people do it wil never matter.

  3. JM*

    Maybe among couples, women are more likely to read Ask a Manager and/or more open to seeking advice from other people.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      this would be me but also my bf has a stable job, I do not but even when I do (have a job) I’ll still read.

    2. danr*

      Not this part of the couple. Although I do pass on the best. I’m boning up for my next job or possibly volunteer position. Now I’ll know how to deal with a lot of stuff that I absolutely missed the first time around.

  4. jmkenrick*

    Maybe women are socalized to dicuss and analyze a difficult situation, while men socalized to “hunker down and deal with it.”

  5. Louis*

    My personnal explanation.

    Men are generally more prone to take the “grunt” approach (I guessing this comme from testosterone level).

    When a couple is facing a situation, the male is quicker to get get angry and try to deal with the problem heads on in a not to suttle fashion.

  6. Theguvnah*

    I find it strange anytime someone writes in requesting advice on behalf of someone else – friend, spouse, sister, whatever.

    it probably has something to do with men being conditioned to not seek support/advice.

    1. Your Mileage May Vary*

      I think it’s weird when people write in on other’s behalves (is that the plural for behalf?), too. I’ve often wondered what happens when they go back and tell their friend/spouse/parent/etc. that a bunch of Internet strangers were discussing them and this is the consensus.

  7. Mike C.*

    Personally, I’d rather speak with my significant other regarding problems than discuss it with others. I just feels kind of uncomfortable otherwise. I’m not sure why.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This is something I’ve noticed in my personal life (not a representative sample, of course). I feel like I’ve generally had boyfriends who will discuss problems with me that they don’t talk to others about, whereas I’ll often discuss stuff with a range of people. I think this goes back to differences in socialization: Women are (generally) socialized to share feelings and worries more than men are. So while men are generally emotionally intimate with their partner, they often don’t have those sorts of conversation with friends/friends.

      (There are exceptions, of course.)

    2. Lydia Navarro*

      I would too and am female. This has to do, I think, with having an Italian father. In his culture, you deal with things strictly “privata alla famiglia.” I was raised to never share things outside the family that I would not want on the front page of a newspaper and as a consequence, I have become personally accustomed to this habit and sometimes find it difficult to make close friends. Whenever I’ve had a best friend he has typically been male and preferred to do activities rather than talking.

  8. KayDay*

    My boyfriend doesn’t read AAM (despite being well aware of my obsession interest in it). So if he is complaining about a problem and work and I am at a loss, it’s really tempting to write in on his behalf. This blog doesn’t have enough football videos for him to be interested in reading it :(

    1. Sparky629*

      Lol. My husband is also obsessed with football so I learned to turn any advice I give to him into a football analogy. Works like a charm. every.time. :-)

  9. Risa*

    Funny I was going to email you on behalf of my brother this week. In this case, it was two-fold. One he is military re-entering the civilian life and isn’t as familiar with the resources available to him for civilian job-searching. And the advice he is getting from the military career counselors is atrocious (no cover letter as the objective takes the place of it, etc.).

    The second part is he and my other brothers, husband and father are all incredibly stubborn. I am too, as it runs in the family, but as a woman I do think I’ve been socialized to ask for advice more, and they’ve been conditioned to “suck it up and deal with it.” It’s all a bit stereotypical, and certainly there are exceptions to the rules, but I do think that in the United States, the traditional gender roles still have a strong influence, especially when it comes to subtle things such as asking for advice.

  10. Jonathan*

    I cannot speak for all men out there, but I will offer my two cents. I think guys generally feel that asking for career help/advice is a sign of weakness. Men tend to solve problems by ‘working it out’. Women tend to solve problems by talking about it.

    I do noticed that this website is probably visited by more females than males. This is not a knock on the website, but it is becoming a Dear Abby of career advice.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Interestingly, that might only be true of the commenters here, but not readers. I do think you’re right (just based on user names) that there are more regular female commenters here than male. But commenters make up a fairly small fraction of total readers (the site gets about 22,000 visits a day, versus a couple hundred comments on an average day), and gender division seems to be more even when it comes to overall readers. (I’m basing that on programs like Quantcast that estimate a website’s demographics).

      1. Eva*

        That reminds me: Are you still planning on doing a reader survey sometime? :) I’ve been looking forward to it (regardless of whether you decide to include a question about personality type – seriously; I’m a real sucker for surveys).

          1. Lydia Navarro*

            It would also be interesting to see a breakdown by geographic area, industry, payscale, position, and race/ethnicity. I would surely be curious, living in NYC, which has cultures from all over the world, how many readers are from my city (for example).

      2. Elizabeth*

        What about the letters you get where the writer is asking for advice for him/herself? Are they split about 50-50 between men and women, or is there a gender gap there like in the writers asking for a significant other?

      3. Ellie H.*

        I was going to post asking if you had data about your readership. That’s interesting. I think maybe women are more interested in reading extensively about interpersonal situations. The other advice columns I read are Savage Love, Dear Prudence, The Ethicist, and Social Q’s. (I’ve tried to read Carolyn Hax but I find the site difficult to navigate.) Dear Prudence seems heavily female dominated but the rest are pretty mixed, to me. I have no idea what this all means though.

        1. Marie*

          I RSS the Carolyn Hax one, because the stories are so juicy, it’s worth navigating the confusing website.

    2. Sparky629*

      but it is becoming a Dear Abby of career advice.

      Um, that’s how I ended up here and keep coming back.

  11. some guy - regular reader*

    My wife would kick my @ss if she found out I’d asked online or a stranger for advice about her, even if it was all done anonymously.

    1. Anonymous*

      Well if she couldn’t solve her problem and you couldn’t solve her problem, and it was still a problem… I can’t see how an anonymous email would hurt.

      1. fposte*

        Eh, I can see it, though. The fact that I can’t fix something doesn’t give my partner permission to tell whoever he pleases about it. But I’m pretty private, and some people are more naturally inclined to share, and I’m assuming Some Guy knows which category his wife belongs in.

        1. Katie*

          It probably depends on the situation, too. Maybe I wouldn’t mind asking someone for help on how to get candle wax out of the carpet if we couldn’t both figure it out, but I bet I would mind if he asked about something deeply personal or sensitive.

  12. Cindy*

    In some (not all) marriages, it may be that the woman is more attuned to social cues, subtle suggestions, and the like, hence more likely to notice a problem the male is having at work, while the husband doesn’t see anything wrong. I feel this way with my husband, who has been left behind for a long-overdue promotion. Whenever it comes up, he says, “oh, my manager said he mentioned it to the higher ups, so I guess it’s in process.” It’s annoying that he doesn’t see that some conversations need to be had, and information gathered, but I’m not a codependent psycho so I’m not going to do it for him or ask Allison what he should do.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I think this is true to some extent. I’ve seen situations where something wonky was going on and the woman saw it WAY before her husband did, either with a colleague or in a personal situation. Unfortunately, one dude didn’t believe her until the poo hit the personal cooling device.

      1. NewReader*

        I watch the guys that don’t complain too much- if that type of guy says “this is a problem” then you can pretty much figure it is going to be huuuuge. I have not seen this often- but the times I have seen it, I was totally blindsided by the info. And the accuracy and the early forecast of what the man was saying was jawdropping.

  13. Bridgette*

    I don’t know about the majority of those emails you receive, but from the ones that you do post, I think the disparity is due to a more controlling, take-charge personality. The women who write in for someone tend to use language like, “I’m so frustrated, he won’t do anything about it, he doesn’t see my point of view, etc.” I get the feeling from a lot of those letters that the males in their life just don’t move at their pace and they want things to happen, so in an effort to light a fire under their butts, they email AAM so they can have an expert’s clout. Sometimes that fire is needed, but from the way they write, I suspect they are just upset that their guys aren’t doing things their way.

  14. Carolyn*

    Ive never asked for career advice for my husband to strangers, but maybe it’s because AAM’S is a female and women feel more connected to “gossip” with you than males.

  15. Eva*

    “Or because women are generally (generally, not always) more socialized than men to share feelings and problems?”

    What’s the share of men among those writing in on their own behalf? Is it closer to fifty-fifty? Because in that case they can apparently share just fine, no?

    Incidentally, there’s a Danish TV show where families steeped in debt can get a team of experts to come help steer them on the right path (participants have to hand control of their finances to the experts who may then legally act on their behalf). It’s always the woman writing in, never the man (even though sometimes it’s the woman who’s overspending) – and it’s usually clear from the man’s attitude that he is a reluctant participant, and indeed sometimes they openly admit that calling in the experts has been her last resort before divorce. I’m guessing some of these dynamics transfer to the act of writing in to AAM on a (male) partner’s behalf.

  16. Ask a Manager* Post author

    One more piece of data to throw out there — I’ve never actually tallied this up so it’s a rough estimate, but I think the number of letters that I receive from people writing in about their own problems are roughly 50/50 male/female. Maybe a slight edge toward women, but pretty close to 50/50.

    It’s the writing in on behalf of someone else where the ratio changes dramatically.

    1. Jamie*

      This is rough too, but about 1/4 of the AAM linked in group is male. Although it skews heavily with librarians and HR which tend to be more female dominated fields (if I’m not mistaken).

      Although there are a lot of people of both genders from such a wide range of industries that never fails to impress me.

      Oh – and because I haven’t shilled it in a while – if you’re interested go to linkedin and search groups for Ask a Manager networking group.

      We’re at almost 500 people – which is just astonishing to me.

  17. Dr. Speakeasy*

    Hmmm, perhaps care-taking behaviors. I also wonder if some of it is family economics. Women still tend to make less than men, and so you have more women who may feel economically dependent on their husband/boyfriend (or simply think that supporting hubby/boyfriend’s career is a good economic strategy – which given today’s constraints, it is). Thus, they are more invested in getting advice for male partner, sending in resumes for male partners, etc. then male partners are for trying to further their female partners career. Even in situations where partner’s incomes are equal, there may be some cultural lag in play.

    Doesn’t apply to the sisters and mothers. (Although, if mothers were involved in pushing their male partners, they may apply the same logic to their sons), but may make up part of the variance.

    1. Anon2*

      This is exactly what I was thinking. If I were a stay at home mother, or earned significantly less than my male partner, then I would have a HUGE vested interest in their career. I would never apply to job on their behalf, but I would absolutely write to AAM for advice.

      I have one friend who’s husband often frustrates her with his lackluster job searches, lack of attention to paychecks (double-checking pay raises, bonuses and reimbursements – he’s missed A LOT of money over the years) and even his inability to pay attention when choosing health plan options! She also works, but they need both incomes and have children to support. She would write AAM in a heartbeat for advice on his behalf.

  18. Brett*

    I’m not sure it’s fair to generalize to a whole gender, but I do think that occasionally women feel like its their job to “fix” their partners problems (call it a caring behavior gone horribly awry), and they’re not always super patient about it.

    Its basically the same thing as helicopter parenting. I suspect most of the time the person writing in for someone else has a very skewed view of how things work in that office. Either in terms of how fast an issue could be resolved, or in terms of if a problem is solvable at all.

    1. Job Seeker*

      I would never write in for my husband. I do believe most women have a caring attitude toward those they love. This behavior continues with our husbands/boyfriends, children and even our little pets. We are the caregivers and we want to make things better. We talk things through with others. We feel more comfortable sharing personal things with other women. We connect more. I think this is hard for men.

      1. Jamie*

        I think men are just as caring about those they love – I see my husband as a caregiver who wants to make things better just as much as I do.

        I also don’t think we connect more as much as we connect differently. I’m on IT forums and men are the vast majority of members/posters and will absolutely ask advice all day long if they are stumped with something. Advice in setting up a firewall is concrete – but they also talk about work situations…but the reponses tend to be (and I’m generalizing) a little shorter and to the point. Along the lines of “My boss sucks because of XYZ. What should I do?” and the majority of answers fall into one of three camps: “F*ck him – get another job”, “F*ck him – it’s like that everywhere, just deal”, and “F*ck you, your boss is right and you need to stop being such a schmuck – I’d have fired you.”

        That’s a gross oversimplification of course, but I stand by the point. Men have great communication, it just tends to be different. A little more blunt and to the point in many instances.

        1. Jamie*

          In case my tone wasn’t clear – that was said with a degree of admiration and total respect. I actually love the way men communicate.

          1. Job Seeker*

            I agree with you Jamie, I think men can be very caring. I am married to the sweetest, most wonderful caring man in the world. He is protective of me. But, I just think sometimes like you pointed out they approach things in a different way. Love them though, what in the world would we do without them?

    2. TL*

      I have a friend (female) who approaches every relationship with “He just needs a little work to be the perfect boyfriend” (And at the same time insists she isn’t trying to “fix” people, she just thinks she should influence her bfs into being better people.) I’ve seen this attitude in varying degrees in my female friends – not at all to friend above – but I don’t recall ever seeing it in my male friends.

      1. Jamie*

        There is an old adage: Men marry women hoping they will never change, women marry men hoping they do.

        Which is horrible on the face of it, but I have to say my first marriage (early 20s) I went into it know it would be great just as soon as he stopped being XYZ and GHIJK. Because my love can perform miracles apparently. Yes – the ego is astounding.

        My second marriage (mid 30s) I was very pragmatic. I took a flaw inventory of this man and evaluated if I could live with every single thing wrong with him, not only as it is now, but if everything got worse. There were no deal-breakers so I went ahead.

        Now he would tell you that I’m constantly trying to fix him, but he’s wrong. My quest to have the bed made, organized closets, and to keep sour cream out of things where it has no business being (which is everywhere except on a baked potato) is not a mission to change him on a fundamental level.

        1. Catherine*

          So I guess you understand what my husband has to put up. I know not what a made bed or organized closet is. I am chaos.

            1. Rana*

              I love that analogy. I’ve decided that I’m an order muppet who plays at being a chaos muppet. On the surface, chaos and anarchy, but beneath, an anxiety about not following the rules.

            2. Jamie*

              Ellie! You did not share that here before because I would have bookmarked it immediately!

              This is awesome! I have decided that faux chaos Muppet is my new identity. I yearn to be an order Muppet, but I am too lazy to do it properly.

    3. Rana*

      I could see this being a factor. The situation Alison’s asking about reminds me a bit of those couples where the female partner takes over things like buying her male partner’s clothing, where he’s not considered able to do basic household chores without screwing them up, etc.

      It’s worth noting, though, that this isn’t simply a matter of one partner being bossy; the other partner is usually happy to be bossed, in the couples like this that I know.

  19. Josh S*

    I. Am. The 5. Percent!

    I’ve written in at least twice to AAM with questions–one on behalf of my wife, and another on behalf of my mother.

    I love it when I fall outside the majority on something.

  20. Joey*

    Men just tend to believe that the person will work it out on their own because that’s how we learned. Ever hear of Mom throwing little Johnny in the deep end to learn how to swim?

    1. Jamie*

      I think the mom’s who would do that to little Johnny would do it to little Janie, too.

      Personally my sons learned to swim the way my father and brother did…by taking lessons from a trained instructor in a pool with a lifeguard. So this analogy is a little outside my worldview. :)

  21. Jen in RO*

    In my experience (with, well, 1 man), he likes to fix everything by himself. “Hulk smash, I don’t need help, etc.” I like to involve a council in my decisions :)

  22. public librarian*

    Over at The Daily WTF, there’s an item that describes an interview where both parents came to do the interview. The candidate did not come with. Of course, TDWTF never let a few facts spoil a great story.

    1. Jamie*

      Facts be damned that is a great story and a great site.

      There are a lot of good interview stories there under the “Tales from the Interview” section.

  23. Anonymous*

    Not saying this speaks for all men, but my husband tends to think that there is just an inevitable amount of BS in having any job (or job search) so he tends to not let it get to him/try to resolve it.

    I would never write in for advice on his behalf. He’s a big boy, perfectly capable of crafting an email. I do sometimes send him AAM posts and other articles that are relevant to problems he or I have at work, but it’s not my job to fix his life for him (especially at work!). I’m not the meddling type, I guess.

  24. Colette*

    There are some women who like to believe the men in their lives are incapable of normal tasks (like cooking, or childcare, or …). That could be a factor.

    I have a friend – who is no 80 – who has to make dinner for her husband and kids if she’s going out. All of them are capable of making their own dinner, but I think it makes her feel needed to believe that they can’t.

    She’s not the norm, but I do hear a lot of women saying things that imply the men in their lives can’t do things as well as they can. (e.g. I don’t know how good this wine is, picked it.)

  25. Sparky629*

    I haven’t read all of the comments and someone may have said this already but… the women who write in with a spouse related problem often don’t work outside of the home. I think that tends to make a huge difference.
    I work full time as well as my husband so if he has a problem at work, we tend to work through it based on our experiences or experiences from co-workers and friends.
    Not that I’m knocking SAHM/SAHW but they tend to have more of a personal investment in their husband doing really well in the work place. Whereas, if my husband doesn’t do well at his job we have other options that might not be feasible if there’s only one income.

    Just a thought.

  26. LL*

    Perhaps women care more about their husbands’ careers than husbands care about their wives’ careers?

    Surveys *still* show that the man’s career is prioritized over the woman’s in the majority of marriages. (From a purely economic standpoint, this makes some sense as the gender wage gap *still* exists.) It is rare for couples to move to promote the wife’s career – the opposite is far more common, even when the wife is more successful or even if her career will suffer substantially. Married men earn more than their similarly experienced but single colleagues, while married women earn LESS than their single counterparts. Married men are promoted faster than single men; married women are promoted slower than single women. In dual-earner households, wives *still* do more housework and childcare on average, thereby having less time to devote to career aspirations.

    From these patterns, I’d hypothesize that a man would be a lot less likely than a woman to take the time to write in for advice on their spouse’s career.

      1. TL*

        The recent statistics I’ve read show that women are edging out men as breadwinners in married couples – it’s been thought because of the state of economy? Of course, lots of couples aren’t married.

        1. LL*

          The sources I’ve read suggest that women are increasingly likely to be primary breadwinners in their *households* – BUT, less than 1 out of 4 of working wives out-earn their husbands (Pew Research Center, 2010). Many female breadwinners are single, divorced, etc.

      2. LL*

        Here’s a small selection of sources I found with a quick internet search. All are fairly recent – last 5 yrs or so, but not industry specific.
        1.) Wage gap – BLS (2011) or Census (2011); wage gap when married – Journal of Human Resources (2007), Themes in Economics (2012)
        2.) Prioritizing careers – Cornell sociologist Youngjoo Cha (2010) study originally printed in American Sociological Review and discussed here:
        3.) Dual earners and housework – American Sociological Review (2012)

  27. Steve*

    I can answer that. It is because men already know exactly what their partners should do and have probably already told them so several times.

    1. TL*

      I seriously doubt that every man is imbued with Alison’s knowledge simply because he is a man. The attitude I’ve seen among my brothers/male friends is that they offer a suggestion/try to fix and, if it’s not acted on, just ignore the problem rather than fixate on it. They tend to assume that either their SO is choosing not to solve it – and thus there’s nothing they can do – or is incapable of solving it – thus, there’s still nothing they can do if their offer of help has been rejected.

    1. Jamie*

      This. As my kids were looking for jobs (2 done – one still looking) I’ve been passing along a lot of advice from here.

      My youngest has taken to referring to Alison and you guys as “Mom’s imaginary friends.” Since they have to hear advice from you, but you don’t exist in a corporeal form in our world.

      Mom and her Imaginary Friendswould be the title of the weirdest children’s show ever.

      1. M-C*

        Haven’t you yet found Aliison’s rules about no taking job-seeking advice from your parents? That’s a really good one. Referring your kids to this site is not the same as reading it and passing on pre-digested advice..

      2. Laura L*

        Your son sounds awesome!

        I talk about this website all the time, too. My parents and I recently disagreed with the way my brother had handled something related to the job search. When I searched for an answer here, we found that he had done a good job and we were wrong!

  28. Anonymous*

    I admit that for one job I worked on my husband’s resume and sent the e-mail with cover letter from his address. He wanted the job but he was reluctant to apply because he thought they’d “never even give him a call.” He did three drafts of the resume and the cover letter, left it drafts and then just kept moaning about how he couldn’t finish it because he’d never get a call. So I sent it off.

    He actually got the job. They liked him in the interview quite a bit.

  29. NewReader*

    I think that there is no one particular reason, but rather many, many reasons that women write in on behalf of their husbands/BFs.

    There are just some things that women tend to take the lead in.

    Alternative medicine is another example. I am being told that much of alternative med targets women because once the woman finds value in a specific modality (ie: yoga, massage, reiki, etc) she will bring her husband and kids. It’s an over all pattern but not everyone fits the pattern.

    I think for the stats to show such a remarkable disparity there has to be numerous reasons running concurrently. Time is a healer, I think more men will write in the future. It takes a while for our society to make changes. (Meaning sometimes a decade or longer.)

    Just as a point of curiosity, I wonder how many men write into Dear Abby or Carolyn Hax and others on behalf of women.

  30. scott*

    Because more women than men read this blog? I’m of the latter, and have learned a great deal here, but haven’t run into any problems not already discussed here.

  31. Bryan*

    As a man who has considered but hasn’t actually written in on behalf of a woman, here was my logic:
    Based on being a reader for more than 2 years, I have a pretty good idea of the advice that would be provided in the particular situation. I have already provided that advice and was mostly brushed off. Why would the advice coming from a different source be any different.

    Idk if this generalizes, but at least from what I’ve seen women find a man that is very good and try to mold him to be perfect, so they will write in to get the advice to try to make him better (ladies, be honest, how many of you have never tried to change anything at all about a boyfriend/husband). Men are more of the opinion that a woman is a package deal, you get the good with the bad so if she didn’t want the good advice from me, why would she want it from someone else. She is who she is and you either accept the whole package or move on.

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