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“If they don’t, everyone wants to know what’s wrong with them.” Mirren’s words couldn’t be timelier.

Their reasons for not having children are varied, often deeply personal – and sometimes, like Mirren’s, circumstantial. Childless monarchs, such as Elizabeth I and Queen Anne (her children died at a young age), were frowned upon, both losing their families the throne upon their death.Women who reach their mid-thirties without giving birth are forced to justify their decision to family, friends – and often strangers.“The expectation is that they will marry and have children,” explains Sue Fagalde Lick, author of Childless by Marriage.There is no longer such a thing as a ‘tech’ industry – just industries that have been affected by tech.Just as the first industrial revolution 250 years ago left an indelible mark on the lives of the people who lived through it, tech is turning upside down everything we thought about work, social interaction, politics and life itself.It’s not just Europe’s largest companies that come to Web Summit, but over 7,000 CEOs from companies of all sizes and industries learning about what new software and hardware can transform their businesses.

They are joined by leading academics, those at the forefront of tech and business worlds, cultural icons and influencers, and key global leaders to tackle the world’s most pressing issues.

“But now, post-contraception and with the ability to earn and be considered equal, all women have turned out not to be the same.” An ONS study in 2010 found that just one in nine women born in 1938 remained childless, rising to one in five women born in 1965.

It is projected that a quarter of 45-year-olds will be childless by 2018.

“You career girls,” he leers, “can’t put it off forever. “I have no maternal instinct whatsoever,” she once said.

Tick-tock, tick-tock.” Childless women – whether they’re 32, like Bridget, or 67, like Dame Helen Mirren, whose comments in this month’s Vogue have reignited the debate on childlessness – have had to put up with jibes like this for centuries. “Motherhood holds no interest for me.” In her latest interview, however, Mirren, who has been married for 15 years, admits that she always expected to be a mother. “I kept thinking it would be, waiting for it to happen, but it never did, and I didn’t care what people thought.” In a society where not having children remains taboo, Mirren’s honesty is refreshing.

“I’ve had all the time in the world to have babies,” she said. About the same time women began to enter the workforce, parenthood was delayed until later in life, and having children – as the costs of education spiralled – became increasingly expensive.