The most emailed article in the New York Times at the moment is this one about how women at elite colleges expect to give up their careers to be mothers.
A 2000 survey of Yale graduates in their forties showed that 90% of men worked but only 56% of women, and the article says there are similar numbers for the 2005 survey.
Young women in college are, therefore, just being realistic about how they expect their life to proceed. I'm a big fan of realism.
There are more than enough resources in the United States for a substantial portion of the population not to work, and the fact that less women work than men reflects the different inclinations of the sexes. But women's organizations should not be complaining that women earn less than men if women with the greatest potential to earn a lot of money are voluntarily abandoning the workforce to raise children.
The issue that's only alluded to in the article is whether education at an elite school is being wasted on students who don't intend to "use" it in their careers. My answer is no, it's not being wasted, because I don't believe that the real purpose of an elite education is to give students skills to use in their careers that they couldn't have obtained at a second tier school. Elite education is all about status, and it's mathematically impossible for more than 1% of the people to be in the top 1% of the status bell curve.
Businesses might be wasting resources if they hire a woman in her early thirties with the intention of grooming her for a higher level role, because there is a high chance that she'll abandon her career in a few years. But as far as I know, most hiring decisions are made to fill an immediate need without much regard for what the person being hired will be doing in three years. The days when hiring decisions were made with a long term view are pretty much over.