18/02/2014 07:30 GMT | Updated 19/04/2014 06:59 BST

Bosses Are No Longer Marrying Their Secretaries

There's a new piece of research out which says that top chief executives and ambitious bosses are no longer choosing to have a fling with their office secretaries or PAs - instead are going for their intellectual equals.

One of the main reasons for this is that women, in recent years, have been opting to catch up to men in the higher education department and are opting to have further studies - be it at a technical college or university - before settling down to marriage and having a family.

An American research body, the National Bureau of Economic Research, has concluded that there has been a significant increase in similarly educated couples marrying. More encouraging is the news that there are similar results being uncovered in British studies.

So what, one might ask, does this mean in terms of the couple relationship? Does it mean that because women are just as equal as their husbands when it comes to careers and bringing home the ££££, men now have to do a more equal share of the housework such as cleaning, cooking and shopping?

It is all worth thinking about, particularly since there are so few secretaries left in the working world today - people either have PAs or assistants. In addition, there are many London bosses who now, because of the use of internet and computers, are able to have PAs who live and work from their homes in the countryside and are not even visible - either to their bosses or the general public.

In the past, it was no unusual to hear of people finding romance with their secretaries or Pas. Now the researchers say that walking down the aisle between boss and secretary could be consigned to the dustbins of marital history.

Couples are increasingly finding each other at university rather than work, and the results is that the social and academic background can be similar

Nearly half of married graduate men had married female graduates in 2005, compared with just a quarter in 1960, a study of American census data by Pennsylvania University found.

At the other end of the scale, nearly 60 per cent of women who had only been educated to high school level were married to men of the same education in 2005, compared to just over 40 per cent in 1960.

The changes come about given that there are now larger numbers of women going to university.

John Goldthorpe, emeritus fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford, told the Sunday Times: "If you go back to the 1960s you would have a big sex difference - the nurse marrying the surgeon, the businessman marrying the secretary.

"Over the past 20 years women have caught up with men in the proportion going into higher education. They are going in their mating years and therefore universities are becoming big mating factories."

But the downside is that this new trend could bring about greater inequality in household incomes, as successful and low-earning couples are now keeping more apart.

A US postgraduate couple could earn 119 per cent more than the average income in 2005, but a postgraduate woman married to a man who had not finished high school would earn eight per cent less than average.

Economics professor Stephen Machin, of University College London, said: "It suggests a polarisation of skills in households. It's been a driving factor behind inequality and most people would say that's not good."