An Australian study tracking women who left school in 1991 has found that only 38% of tertiary qualified Generation X women are still working full-time compared to 90% of men.
It's almost like there are two ages of women. There's a strongly careerist period in their 20s, which is often followed by a dissatisfaction with their lot and a desire to start a family and scale back paid work commitments.
I do get this. After about ten years in a career, when you've successfully met the challenges of work over and over again, some of the early excitement wears off and it becomes a bit of a slog. Men have a reason to keep slogging away, particularly if they're the main providers for their families. And women have a reason to take a break, to devote at least a part of their life to motherhood.
But it must be confusing for younger men. They have to adapt to the idea of the highly ambitious career woman when they're in their 20s, but then return to the more traditional masculine provider ethos when in their 30s.
My advice to young men would be to remain committed to their own careers no matter how much the women they know appear to be high-flying careerists. There's a strong chance that these women will change their priorities later on. And when women have had children there's often a real appreciation for men who are stable breadwinners - it can help to make for a happy marriage.