Seeking young, well educated men... for sperm donation.

When you first think about what characteristics a woman might look for in a potential father for her children, you might list things like eye colour, height, ethnicity, medical background. Really, a thousand different things.

But new research published in the journal Economics and Human Biology has revealed some very interesting information about women’s choices for their baby’s father, by analysing their choice of sperm donors.

In the first research of it’s kind, the study, called What women want in their sperm donor; A study of more than 1000 women’s sperm donor selections by Stephen Whyte and Professor Benno Torgler, examined 1546 Australian women and asked them a series of questions to determine how exactly they made selection to use a specific donor to conceive their child.


Image: istock

What they found was that when presented with an opportunity to choose gamete samples, women's preferences for male characteristics differed from what they typically chose when seeking a partner out there in the big wide world. In fact, the most desirable characteristics as revealed by the women in the study were age (with women preferring younger donors over older donors) and educational achievements.

"Previous human mating research has shown that women prefer older males, as males naturally accrue resources with age. That women actually choose younger males to mate with in a reproductive setting, is a unique finding that merits further research" says Mr Whyte.

With advancements in assisted fertility and sperm donation, women are now in a position to choose specific desirable characteristics to reproduce with. Women with fertility issues, single women and same sex couples are all able to access sperm donation through sperm banks. "Women are theoretically no longer bound by the constraints of proximity, social class, culture, or race when choosing a male to mate with" explains Mr Whyte "Reproductive medicine now not only gave women the chance to become a parent, where previously they would not have been able to, it also revealed that females preference for resources of their potential mate remain, even when the notion of parental involvement becomes redundant."

The researchers say that the findings are important as it provides behavioural insight into characteristics preferred by women using assisted reproductive technology and is the first of it's kind to analyse women's choice, rather than their preference.