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Waiting in a bar for a young man a few weeks ago, she ran through possible options, before settling on the subject of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
‘I think he had anger issues.’ British women began to ‘catch up’ with men’s educational attainment levels in the Sixties, when larger numbers entered universities, but only recently have the roles been dramatically reversed, with men falling behind at an alarming rate.‘In the Sixties there was a gendered way of pushing female graduates into jobs such as teaching and nursing,’ says Nichi Hodgson, author of The Curious History Of Dating: From Jane Austen To Tinder.‘And only 20 or 30 years ago a man wanted his female partner to be smart because the assumption was that she would be the primary carer, staying at home to raise their children, who would then absorb her intellect.’But now women are competing with men for the same careers — there are more female junior doctors than male, for example, while nearly two-thirds of practising lawyers in Scotland under 40 are women — their achievements have become more problematic.‘Smart women raise the issue of who would take time off when they have children,’ says Hodgson.
One can imagine how such a topic could be a little alienating to many men, and Natasha herself admits ‘there’s only so much I can talk about my own interests without sounding patronising.’She says that men often try to change the subject matter back to lads’ nights outs, holidays and sporting hobbies.‘I’ll always listen to be polite, but superficial, self-indulgent conversation is an immediate red flag,’ she says.
Since the breakdown of her most recent relationship, with a DJ ten years her senior, Natasha has had a handful of dates, but declined to take things further.‘Afterwards I’ll text to say our conversations weren’t flowing in the right direction.
‘I’m not claiming to be Albert Einstein, but I can’t seem to meet a man I find intellectually stimulating,’ she says.
Nor is she the only well-educated young woman who says she is too clever to find love.
Among those from poorer backgrounds, the gender divide is highly pronounced, with young women who were on free school meals 51 per cent more likely to go into higher education than men in similar circumstances.‘The boys at my school mostly went into manual jobs after we left and seemed to think I had a high opinion of myself for going to university,’ says Becca.