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I am a female PhD student, studying computer science at a top school in the heart of Silicon Valley. I have a wonderful boyfriend who probably never wants to leave the Bay Area because he is (a) a software engineer, and (b) owns a very expensive house. So if I go into academia I probably have to break up with him, and I think I would encounter similar problems with almost any other guy I date.

Would it be better to get married and take a nice job in industry, or go into academia and never date anyone? I only sort of want to go into academia, but I can't shake the nagging feeling of being limited. It's like a voice in my head saying "you could be so much more successful, if you wanted to." I do not want to be like the other ambitious women who reach a glass ceiling and have to compromise on their ambitions because of their partners.

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    Asking as a male, but what does being female have to do with it? Many people are probably concerned about limiting their career options because they have an SO, including myself. I have not often heard the glass ceiling equated with having a partner. – Azor Ahai -him- May 10 '16 at 19:54
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    @Azor-Ahai Women are just generally expected to compromise a lot more on these sorts of things than men are, e.g. hbr.org/2014/12/… "More than half the men in Generation X and the Baby Boom said that when they left HBS, they expected that their careers would take priority over their spouses’ or partners’. ... Meanwhile, the vast majority of women across racial groups and generations anticipated that their careers would rank equally with those of their partners." – girl May 10 '16 at 20:01
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    @CaptainEmacs I wouldn't say this guy is above my level (and I'm not sure why you assume that I'm dating "up"), but that doesn't mean he doesn't have preferences of his own. Even someone who is extremely unambitious may want to stay in the area (e.g. if they have friends or family there). No one really wants to be dragged around by their partners no matter what "level" they're at – girl May 10 '16 at 20:07
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    I'm sympathetic to your quandary, but without knowing your relative preferences/values, how could you possibly expect a good answer to this question? This question seems better directed to someone who knows you, a trusted adviser, or failing that perhaps a trained therapist. – Philip May 10 '16 at 20:14
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    @TomChurch I haven't talked to him about this and I'm not sure if he would move or not. But because he is a software engineer and most of the good engineering jobs are here, I think his job prospects would be a lot worse if he moved (and also he owns a house so moving would be a hassle). I think it would be unfair and selfish of me if I asked him to give up his job and his house and move to a town in the middle of nowhere. It's just something I would never want to ask someone to do – girl May 10 '16 at 21:04