London, Jan 04 (Agencies): Decades of gender equality campaigns notwithstanding, women still want to marry men who are better educated and earn more money than them, a researcher says.

The idea that women dislike being financially dependent on men is a myth, according to Catherine Hakim from the London School of Economics.

After decades of gender equality campaigning, many women now find it hard to admit that they want to be a housewife more than they want a successful career of their own, she said, according to a Telegraph report.

Despite 40 years of reforms to promote gender equality at work, a woman's financial dependence on a man "has lost none of its attractions", Hakim said.

In a 52-page report published by the Centre for Policy Studies think tank, Hakim continued: "Women's aspiration to marry up, if they can, to a man who is better-educated and higher-earning, persists in most European countries."

Hakim's research drew on an extensive review of existing studies from around the world, census data, and national surveys conducted in Britain and Spain.

An analysis of figures for Britain shows that in 1949, 20 percent of women married husbands with significantly higher levels of education than their own.

By the late 1990s, the proportion of women who were "marrying up" had almost doubled to 38 percent. Similar patterns are seen across much of Europe, the US and Australia.

Hakim said many women did not want to admit that they were looking for a higher earning partner. They even keep the fact secret from the men they are dating, she said.

"It has become impossible to say 'I wouldn't mind being a housewife'," she said. "It is so politically incorrect that a lot of women don't want to admit it."