Women are overtaking men in education and in the workplace, a senior Government minister said yesterday – creating a new generation of stay-at-home fathers.
Universities minister David Willetts predicted relationships and traditional household structures will be transformed as the fairer sex powers ahead, and women earn more than their male partners.
Successful women will have to ‘marry down’ by choosing partners less qualified than them – and may increasingly select men based on how supportive they might be to their careers, rather than whether they can support them financially.
And experts say women will often become the main breadwinners, with more men staying at home to look after children.
Mr Willetts said there was clear evidence from schools that boys are ‘lagging behind’, and are being overtaken by female students at university
He said: ‘I am not against women having those advantages but there is now a rather striking gap, if you look at the statistics, where it looks as if approximately 50 per cent of women are graduating from university by the time they’re 30 and perhaps about 40 per cent of men.’
He added: ‘It may lead to changes in the patterns of household living. So there are some deep questions here.’
The Philadelphia-based Pew Research Centre study, published in The Atlantic magazine, suggests female graduates are being put in similar situation to that faced for some time by black women.
In America, 70 per cent of black women have no husband and there are twice as many black women as black men with university degrees.
Many educated British women believe there is already a dearth of traditional husbands.
Claire Davis, 33, who works in financial services and lives in south London, told The Times: 'I have a good job, my own flat and I can pretty much do what I want, but a lot of the men I meet aren't really of the right calibre.
'If I look at the friends I went to university with, the men don't tend to be doing as well as the women.'
According to the latest figures, 50 per cent of women are graduating from university compared to only 40 per cent of men.
Speaking to Dermot Murnaghan on Sky News, Mr Willetts said the trend may lead to a change in household living.
He said: 'There is now a rather striking gap if we look at the statistics, where it looks as if approximately 50 per cent of women are graduating from university by the time they are 30 and perhaps about 40 per cent of men.
'This is where the sociologists step in and people think through the implications of that but we have got a gap in educational performance here that goes all the way through our schools and universities, and I want to see an improvement in educational opportunities for men and women because it does look as if the challenge we particularly face in our society at the moment is that the boys are lagging behind the girls.
'It may, in turn, shift balance of earnings between women and men because it connects with what I was saying earlier that, by and large, graduates earn more.
'It may lead to changes in the pattern of household living, so there are some deep questions here and I think these are questions that, as a society, we should focus on.'
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