Mongolia’s ever-growing “reverse gender gap” has resulted in many educated women complaining that there is a shortage of eligible men.
Caused by the efforts of local parents to prioritize investing in their daughters’ education over their sons, the phenomenon is almost uniquely Mongolian as it is the complete opposite of what is happening in many patriarchal countries.
The trend has been going on over the last few decades due to parents’ belief that women will take better care of them in their old age. Meanwhile, boys are kept at home so they can herd livestock.
Most women who studied in universities typically choose to stay in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar to work. While these educated Mongolian women have no problems landing a job, finding a partner is a different story as they far outnumber the educated men in the capital, according to The Guardian.
Based on the country’s statistics office, the marriage rate in Ulaanbaatar has fallen from 22.9 per 1,000 people in 2007 to just 8.9 per 1,000 people in 2016.
While having 60,000 more women than men in a city with 1.5 million population may not seem significant statistically, the discrepancy is more apparent in schools and in the workplace.
Usually, the men they encounter in such settings are already taken as almost 40% of men over the age of 15 in urban areas are married compared to only 32% of women.
Since Mongolian women are expected to establish a career and get married before hitting the age of 29, a search for a suitable male partner can be a daunting task.
Zola (not her real name) said she has spent years trying to find a long-term partner. Now 39 years old, the former economist said that she has tried everything from joining dating events and consulting a shaman but nothing has worked so far.
She also decided to keep her standards low.
“Now I’m thinking he should just care and accept me. I’m not looking for money, or for very good education. He doesn’t have to be successful … as long as he is kind, listens and takes care of me. That’s all,” Zola said.
Others, however, may have a more difficult time adjusting their standards since there is also an ingrained social pressure on women to find a partner who is an equal.
“Young girls are taught they should succeed, then you succeed and there’s no equal partner for you. The social pressure is for you to get married but finding an equal partner is very hard,” said Mongolian journalist Alimaa Altangerel.
Boldbaatar Tumur, head of the Men’s Association in Govisümber province, lamented that the reverse gender gap has resulted in women and men having difficulties relating to one another.
“Women have started to look down on Mongolian men because they have fallen far behind,” Tumur explained. ”No woman wants to live with an undereducated, impolite man. On the other side, men feel women are looking for men who are wealthier and more educated.”
Clubs and bars in Ulaanbaatar have recently made efforts to bridge the gap by holding speed-dating events and partner parties where men and women are reportedly assigned random pairs of numbers. However, with attendees still mostly being women, the hunt for an ideal partner remains a challenge.