In almost all speed-dating events, women sit in stationary positions and men rotate to talk with each of them. When Finkel and Eastwick set up a dating event like that, the standard result bore out — women were more selective. But when they reversed the roles and had women rotate, that was no longer the case. Suddenly, the men became more selective and the women less so.
So it seems women are pickier because our institutions make them pickier. If speed dating was organized to instead make men pickier, I’m guessing men would like it more, but women would soon just not show up to such events. So yes there is a sense in which women are pickier, but it is more in wanting institutions that make them picky, rather that in being pickier given neutral institutions.
More tidbits from the same source:
In a 2005 study, they looked at whether the characteristics singles say they want in a partner match what they actually pursue. On paper, women reported a greater desire for earning potential and status; men were more interested in physical attractiveness. In person at speed-dating events, that discrepancy went away — “women want really good-looking men every bit as much as men want really good-looking women,” Finkel says. And financial prospects were no less important to men than women.
… Another of Finkel and Eastwick’s studies found that when it comes to platonic relationships, if a person tends to like everyone, that goodwill is more likely to be reciprocated. But in romantic relationships, that wasn’t the case. If a single guy digs all the women in the room, Finkel explains, “the women don’t like him back.” The turn-on, he continues, comes when a person feels “uniquely desired.”
In the far view of what we want, men want looks while women want money, but in the near view, men and women want pretty much the same thing. Is this far view of what we want more what we want others to think we want, or is something else going on?
Added: As Andy suggests, these seem explainable by far view looking more to long term relations, while near view looks to short term relations. In far view women want to be pickier, and want men with money, even if they aren’t naturally inclined in these directions in near view.