Desperate Housewives of the Ivy League?

Katha Pollitt in The Nation:

Pollitt_2September 20’s prime target for press critics, social scientists and feminists was the New York Times front-page story “Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood,” by Louise Story (Yale ’03). Through interviews and a questionnaire e-mailed to freshmen and senior women residents of two Yale colleges (dorms), Story claims to have found that 60 percent of these brainy and energetic young women plan to park their expensive diplomas in the bassinet and become stay-home mothers. Over at Slate, Jack Shafer slapped the Times for using weasel words (“many,” “seems”) to make a trend out of anecdotes and vague impressions: In fact, Story presents no evidence that more Ivy League undergrads today are planning to retire at 30 to the playground than ten, twenty or thirty years ago. Simultaneously, an armada of bloggers shredded her questionnaire as biased (hint: If you begin with “When you have children,” you’ve already skewed your results) and denounced her interpretation of the answers as hype. What she actually found, as the writer Robin Herman noted in a crisp letter to the Times, was that 70 percent of those who answered planned to keep working full or part time through motherhood. Even by Judith Miller standards, the Story story was pretty flimsy. So great was the outcry that the author had to defend her methods in a follow-up on the Times website three days later.

More here.