Bloomberg recently released a statistical report which examines marriage patterns by occupation in the United States. Who do female doctors marry? Male doctors? Female and male lawyers? It’s a fun graph to play with, and although I’m not sure there’s enough data for same-sex couples to be statistically significant, those are listed as well. I used the data to check out some popular romance cliches. Do tycoons really marry secretaries? Who do athletes marry?

For several popular romance hero types, I’ve put the three top female matches, plus the male match in parens for m/m readers. (Alas, the U.S. census is lacking in dukes and sheikhs, so I had to omit those categories). And the results are bizarrely consistent. Take a look!

Links go to books I could think of with that pairing, like the CEO/CEO pairing in Judith McNaught’s Remember When and the CEO/secretary pairing in the graphic novel Midnight Secretary. I had to fudge it sometimes (a similar occupation, a historical, a non-US story, etc), but the spirit is there. If you can think of a better example, let me know in the comments!

CEOs (classified on Bloomberg as CEOs and Legislators): elementary and middle school teachers, secretaries and admins, and CEOs. (Male: CEOs).

Doctors: Doctors, nurses, and elementary and middle school teachers. (Male: nurses).

Lawyers: Lawyers, elementary and middle school teachers, secretaries and admins. (Male: lawyers)

Police: Elementary and middle school teachers, secretaries and admins, police officers (Male: elementary and middle school teachers.

Athletes: Elementary and middle school teachers, nurses, and athletes (Male: Secretaries and admins)

Actors: Actresses, secretaries and administrative assistants, lawyers and judges (male: Camera operators and editors).

These numbers suggest that if you want to marry a hero, first, pursue the same job as the man you want to marry. Failing that, should you study nursing, get that teaching credential, or hit the books at secretarial school? Actually, no. There are so many women in nursing, education, and secretarial work that doctor-nurse (for instance) pairings may be common among doctors, but they represent a small fraction of nurse marriages.

I ran the matches in reverse for the common female professions, and you can see this different story unfold. A randomly selected male doctor is likely to be married to a female nurse, but a randomly selected female nurse is more likely to be married to a male truck driver. Truck drivers are huge in the data here, but essentially nonexistent in the romance novel canon. I recommend a female/male truck driver romance, Eve Silver (Eve Kenin)’s Driven, but a post-apocalyptic AR ice road trucking scenario isn’t quite analogous to a US contemporary. With some Googling I turned up exactly one truck driver romance: One Christmas Knight by Kathleen Creighton, featuring a trucker named Jimmy Joe Starr and a heroine of unknown career named Mirabella Waskowitz who is pregnant by a sperm donor. The back copy reads “FA LA LA LA… LABOR!” I really hope someone reads this book and reports back.

What were the match for common female careers?

Female elementary and middle school teachers: elementary and middle school teachers, “miscellaneous managers,” and truck drivers (female/female: elementary and middle school teachers; male/male: educational admin)

Female nurses: “miscellaneous managers,” truck drivers, and nurses (female/female: nurses, male/male nurses)

Female Secretaries and admins: “miscellaneous managers,” truck drivers, and retail supervisors (female/female: flight attendants, male/male office supervisors)

The lack of stories I could find to link to here represents, I think, an overall selection against working-class marriages in romance. Which is another, and equally interesting, idea for a post.

Here are some other intriguing occupation matches I stumbled across while playing with the data.

  • The most common same-sex match for male firefighters is male real estate brokers. I guess someone does need a new house…
  • The top match for male enlisted military is female hairdressers. However, the third is female elementary and middle school teachers.
  • The second most common match for female musicians and singers is male clergy.
  • Female librarians are most likely to marry male professors (book 1, book 2)
  • The top match for unemployed men is unemployed women (and for gay men, it is “male eligibility interviewers, government programs,” which is a novel ‘cute meet’).
  • The second most common match for female writers is male CEOs. (Research?)

If you’re married, do you match the statistics for your profession? Did you find anything else funny or striking while you looked around the data? What books do you know that could fit here, either where I already found a book or where I missed one? Have you read any of the books I linked to?

Caroline Russomanno