The Bank of England’s deputy governor has apologised for saying the UK economy is entering a “menopausal” era.
Ben Broadbent used the phrase in an interview with the Daily Telegraph to describe economies that were, in his words, “past their peak, and no longer so potent”.
Later he said he was sorry for the “poor choice of language” and any “offence caused”.
He said productivity affected “every one of us, of all ages and genders”.
The comments sparked a backlash from women on Twitter who objected to his use of the phrase.
Nikki Garnett, who writes a blog for women over 40, said: “How dare you Ben Broadbent?
“Menopausal women have not lost their potency, in fact they are just reaching it… as I suspect you will find out in reactions to your anachronistic comment.”
The economist sits on the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), which has been criticised for having only one female member on its nine-strong board.
He is thought to be to among a number of potential successors to the Bank’s governor Mark Carney.
In his interview, Mr Broadbent compared a recent slowdown in UK productivity to a similar lull at the end of the 1800s, which has been described as a “climacteric” period.
The term, which is borrowed from biology and is used for both sexes, means “you’ve passed your productive peak”, the deputy governor said.
He suggested that the UK may be seeing a “pause” between two technological leaps forward – akin to one experienced by late-Victorian industrialists from steam to electricity.
However, he said the economy could be awaiting its next big breakthrough, possibly as a result of Artificial Intelligence.
Mr Broadbent later stressed that his use of the word menopausal had only applied to the 19th Century.
Last week the MPC announced it was holding interest rates at 0.5%, representing a U-turn for the Bank of England (BoE), which had been expected to reveal a raise.
It followed a slowdown in growth to 0.1% in the first quarter, blamed in part on bad weather.