Does a woman squander her elite education when she opts to say home with her children? Many of today's college women say that's what they plan to do.
What they actually end up doing is a different matter, but I wonder if college women are more likely to say that in the end they will stay home than they are to actually do it.
When the time comes to actually make the choice, there will be some hardcore financial realities to face. (My advice: If this is what you want to do, never let your spending reach the level of your income. Stay on a restricted budget, and always view the money you've brought into the family as extra, so you don't have to cut back to meet your aspiration to take the childraising years off. Don't get addicted to the money.)
Another consideration is whether the woman will have a husband (or other partner) who will share her goal. Will a man who marries a highly educated and accomplished woman (who has high earning power) really want her to stay home and raise the kids? Some men will. Maybe more men than women like this arrangement. The article quotes a guy saying "I think that's sexy."
I wonder whether the decision to become a one-earner family is more available to those at the highest income level. Maybe not. These people may be the most likely to get addicted to the money. And surely, they are most able to pay for nannies and other child care. The less the woman makes, the less of a financial sacrifice it is when she stays home (assuming the partner makes a decent income), and in fact, one could come out ahead. Consider all the expenses of going to work: childcare, transportation, clothing, eating out.
Anyway, the linked article makes it seem as though it has discovered a new cultural development, but I think this issue has been a live one all along. Since the early 70s there have been older women carping about younger women not sufficiently valuing all the work that had been done opening doors for them and women who want to stay home complaining that [other women are failing to recognize that] their choice is equally worthy. The one thing I don't hear so much anymore is people questioning whether to hire or educate women because they will just quit when they have children. Oh, but look at that quote in the post title again. That's from Harvard's director of undergraduate admissions.
UPDATE: Bracketed material in the last paragraph added (for clarity).
IN THE COMMENTS: This is an especially interesting forum in which many readers grapple with personal and economic issues. One commenter becomes distressed about what she interprets as sexist stereotypes.
MORE: The linked article -- a front-page NYT piece -- is based on a survey, which had some pretty obviously weak methodology, as Jack Shafer pointed out in Slate on Tuesday. Gelflog has more, including the text of the questions asked.