The challenge is greatest for high-achieving women in their 30s looking for equally successful men. Analysis of 2006 census figures by the Monash University sociologist, Genevieve Heard, reveals that almost one in four of degree-educated women in their 30s will miss out on a man of similar age and educational achievement. There were only 68,000 unattached graduate men in their 30s for 88,000 single graduate women in the same age group.
And the higher-education gap keeps widening. In the past year, the proportion of degree-educated women aged 25 to 34 rose from 37.7 per cent to 40.3 per cent, according to the Bureau of Statistics, while for males the figure remained below 30 per cent, having risen only 0.5 per cent in the past year.
Although there are similar numbers of single men and women in their 30s overall – about 370,000 of each across Australia – half these available men had only high school education, 57 per cent earned $42,000 or less and 95,000 of them were unemployed.
The high expectations of professional women are a big part of the story. Many high-achieving women simply are not interested in Mr Average, says Justin Parfitt, the owner of Australia’s fastest growing speed-dating organisation, Fast Impressions. Parfitt adds: ”They’ve swallowed the L’Oreal line: ‘Because you’re worth it!’ There’s a real sense of entitlement.”