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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 October, 2003, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Lady myth 'linked to lace'

by Brady Haran
BBC News Online, East Midlands

Nottingham women were rated as 'sexy'
Nottingham is a city fabled for being filled with beautiful and eligible women.

Depending on what you read, this ratio ranges from anywhere between between 3:1 and 6:1.

Of course, it does not take much research to discover this is a myth.

Statistics from the most recent census show the gender ratio in the East Midlands city is pretty even - 134,458 women to 132,530 men.

Yet the myth persists, and it was reinforced by a recent survey which found Nottingham was the best place to find eligible women outside London.

Lace manufaturing
At the height of the lace industry in the late 1860s it was reported that 110,000 women were employed
John Astell

The survey, by dating agency udate, rated the city's women highly in the areas of sexiness and intelligence (although the East Midlands accent was a slight drawback).

Not surprisingly, it seems the myth is being perpetuated by the organsiers of stag weekends.

Stag Weekends UK hosts 300 to 350 men in the city each weekend and its website advertises the city's female to male ratio as 6:1.

Company spokesman Steve Love conceded the ratio was a myth but it "often attracted stag parties", along with the city's vibrant night life and other activities such as paintball and off-road racing.

Several people interviewed by BBC News Online suggested the female population in Nottingham may be boosted by its two universities.

Students at Nottingham Trent freshers ball
Myth? What myth?
However this is also untrue.

Both universities report student gender ratios of nearly 1:1 (The University of Nottingham is 51% male and Nottingham Trent University is 51% female).

Perhaps the most plausible source of the myth can be found in the city's distant past.

John Astell, from the Lace Market Centre, said the city's reputation may have its origins in the days when women worked in the lace industry.

He said: "At the height of the lace industry in the late 1860s it was reported that 110,000 women were employed, mainly in the mills and working from home.

"That would have grown slightly through the Victorian era.

"But today there are very few people employed in the lace industry at all."

The BBC's Brady Haran
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