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With long dark hair, big brown eyes and a stunning Size 8 figure, Natasha — entering her final year at Goldsmiths, University of London — has no problem attracting male attention.
The issue, she explains, is the calibre of men she attracts.
‘I get the impression they’d rather date a girl without a degree.
Yet while the 30-year-old office worker who sat down in front of her was handsome, polite and smartly-dressed, the minute Natasha brought up the Labour leader’s policies, any spark of attraction was extinguished.
‘When I mentioned Jeremy Corbyn he said: “Who’s that? After 90 minutes discussing what she describes as ‘benign’ subjects, such as reality TV and football, Natasha made her excuses and left, no closer to finding Mr Right.
Because, she says, of the class divide.‘The few boys I met at university came from middle-class families in which a degree was expected of them,’ she explains.
‘They weren’t generally interested in their studies, whereas my degree was a big deal — I was there to learn.’She acknowledges some of her degree subjects were a bit ‘out there’ — they included gender and sexuality in Africa and reproduction in new medical technology — but adds: ‘It was hurtful that men didn’t want to talk about them.‘One date found the fact I studied from a feminist perspective offputting.
‘After all, why should a female partner stop working if she’s studied hard for her career?
‘The reality is that with women getting more — and better — degrees, in the next ten to 20 years women will be smarter than men, in terms of how well they’re educated.
In China, they are called ‘leftover’ women.‘It sounds cold and callous, but in demographic terms it’s true.
There are not enough graduates for them,’ said the study’s author Marcia Inhorn, professor of anthropology at Yale University. Frustrated young women terrified of being left single and childless — and men driven by a sense of inadequacy.‘Men may claim to want educated women, but don’t know how to deal with those they meet and some say they’re intimidated by me,’ says Natasha, who grew up in Birmingham and is single after breaking up with her boyfriend this year.‘I feel I’m hitting a brick wall.’Like many arts degrees, her media and communications course is dominated by female students, and Natasha claims the few male undergraduates ‘lack the intellectual maturity to handle conversations’.‘One cancelled our date four times because he was too busy getting drunk.
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.
‘They say I’m too bright for them.’Becca recalls a factory worker she asked out in a bar while home for the holidays turning her down because she was ‘too clever’ for him.‘We were having a great chat until he found out I was at university,’ says Becca.
Indeed, she is one of a growing breed of women who fear — perhaps with good reason — they will be left on the proverbial shelf because of a shortage of educated men.