For Natasha Hooper, the most important part of pre-date preparation isn’t getting her hair done, waxing her legs or buying a new dress.Instead, she is more preoccupied with composing a list of conversational topics which she hopes will bridge the gap between her highbrow preoccupations, and the more mainstream interests of her dates.‘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.
‘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.
‘I get the impression they’d rather date a girl without a degree.
They don’t know how to react to my different life experiences and see my education as a barrier.’So why doesn’t Becca date fellow students?
Most accept it although one, a company director, went on the defensive, saying I thought I was a princess,’ says Natasha.
‘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.