Women graduates are delaying the age they have children until 35 - almost a decade later than those who do not go to university.
The trend of university educated women delaying family formation was already in place here in Melbourne when I was in my mid-20s, back in the early 1990s. I can recall thinking at the time that my female peers were mad to put something so important last on their list of things to do and that some of them would regret it later on.
And now it's later on and we have the regrets. One of the latest is from an English journalist called Claudia Connell:
At the age of 46, I accept that my opportunity to have a family has gone and the chances of meeting a decent man aren’t looking too rosy either.
For me, the single girl lifestyle that I embraced and celebrated with so much enthusiasm in the Eighties and Nineties has lost much of its gloss, and is starting to look a little hollow.
I was part of the Sex And The City generation — successful, feisty women who made their own money, answered to no one and lived life to the full.
When it came to men, our attitude to them was the same as it was towards the latest must-have handbag: only the best would do, no compromises should be made, and even then it would be quickly tired of and cast aside.
She didn't think much about future consequences:
What none of us spent too long thinking about in our 20s and 30s was how our lifestyles would impact on us once we reached middle-age, when we didn’t want to go out and get sozzled on cocktails and had replaced our stilettos and skinny jeans with flat shoes and elasticated waists.
When I look around at all my single friends — and there are a lot of them — not one of them is truly happy being on her own. Suddenly, all those women we pitied for giving up their freedom for marriage and children are the ones feeling sorry for us.
Freedom is great when you can exploit it; but when you have so much that you don’t know what to do with it, then it all becomes a little pointless.
She still assumes here that freedom is individual autonomy rather than an opportunity to fulfil important aspects of self.
In her younger years she felt confident to set the rules when it came to dating. But again she just didn't think ahead:
What I never considered, though, was that one day they’d stop coming along altogether. I really wish I’d known that once you’re in your late 30s, men are pretty thin on the ground. And once you’re in your 40s, it’s as though they’ve been wiped off the face of the Earth.
A woman over 45 on an internet dating site is made to feel as welcome as a parking ticket. The sites may be full of single men in their 40s, but they sure aren’t looking to meet women of the same age!
It seems that she spent her younger years dating numbers of men whilst waiting for Mr Alpha. She's now realised that such men might have preferred a sweeter and less complicated wife than what she was offering:
I also think it’s an uncomfortable truth that the sort of high-flying alpha males we were all holding out for didn’t want women like us. All the successful men I know have married sweet, uncomplicated women who are happy to forfeit their careers to support their husbands.
I should make clear that I don't think the solution is for a woman to panic and to mislead a man she doesn't love into marriage. The political point I'm making is that modern women are given two goals that are difficult to reconcile: the maximising of autonomy and family formation. The "compromise" of being a sassy, independent woman in your 20s, confident that there will always be suitable men on offer so that a decisive commitment can be endlessly deferred is not a wise one. A woman has to choose what's most important and as Claudia Connell has found out a freedom of having no commitments can come to seem pointless.