Ben Broadbent, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, has issued an apology for the “offence caused” by his description of the economy of the United Kingdom as “menopausal” and past its peak.
He is considered as one of the most senior economists of Britain. In an interview, he said that the slow productivity growth in the United Kingdom right now resembles a period of weakness during the late 19th century, that was called a “climacteric” time by economists – which he said was explained as “menopausal, but applies to both genders.”
Broadbent said that it the term used to mean that “you’ve passed your peak.”
However, his comments prompted an enraged response with critics saying that the description is both ageist and sexist, and implies that women are being less productive during or after going through menopause.
Kate Barker, a former policymaker of the Bank of England, said that the words of Broadbent were “pretty offensive”.
The minister for energy and clean growth, Claire Perry, also objected.
On Twitter, she posted: “I can’t be the only 50+ woman objecting to Ben Broadbent’s pejorative description of the UK economy as ‘menopausal’.”
She added: “I’ve never been more productive! How about ‘andropausal’ instead? Then you get declining potency and bonus grumpiness thrown in!”
The ITV presenter, Robert Peston, said that the words of Broadbent were “sloppy, empirically unsound and potentially offensive.”
Broadbent is considered to be a potential candidate to take the place of Mark Carney as the BoE Governor when he steps down in 2019. He said that he meant to use the word in a strictly economic sense.
He stated: “I’m sorry for my poor choice of language in an interview with the Telegraph yesterday and regret the offence caused.”
He added: “I was explaining the meaning of the word ‘climacteric’, a term used by economic historians to describe a period of low productivity growth during the nineteenth century. Economic productivity is something which affects every one of us, of all ages and genders.”
The said controversy happens during a sensitive time for the Bank of England, which has been attempting to increase the number of women who are working in Threadneedle Street, particularly at the senior positions.