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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.
A surefire way, the 22-year-old undergraduate reasoned, to guarantee an interesting debate.
‘I insisted I wasn’t too clever for him and he agreed to go on a shopping trip together for our first date.‘But it was awful.
I think he felt I should lead the conversation, so he barely spoke and I felt too awkward to say anything.’Her longest relationship was with a car mechanic from Burnley last year.
And I don’t think men are ready for this.’This is no surprise to Becca Porter, who graduated last year from Manchester University with a joint honours degree in history and sociology, and is now starting a masters in disability studies at Leeds University.‘The sense of achievement I derive from learning seems alien to most men,’ says Becca, 23.
‘At school I wasn’t bothered about boys, but I’m at the stage where I’d like to share my life with someone.’With a working-class upbringing — Becca’s mother is an activities co-ordinator and her father an engineer — Becca was not only the first in her family to go to university, but an anomaly among her male peers in Burnley, Lancashire.
This growing gulf between male and female attainment — the result, many believe, of the feminisation of the education system, with more female teachers, less physical exercise and an emphasis on the arts — is having troubling repercussions when it comes to relationships.
The issue, she explains, is the calibre of men she attracts.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.‘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.