After telling a conference women enrol in university to find husbands, a column penned by Boris Johnson which says female graduates push up house prices after they "mate" with like-minded middle class men, has resurfaced.
The article, which also targets working mothers, has been dubbed "nasty and divisive" by politicians. The Mayor of London's controversial reckonings were part of a column in the Spectator, where he reasoned children whose mothers work are "more likely to become hoodies, NEETS, and mug you on the street corner".
Boris also blamed the rise in female graduates for house price inflation, saying they "mate" with middle class males to "entrench their economic advantages". Although published in 2007, the piece has resurfaced following Boris telling a conference last week women only go to university to find husbands.
According to the Mayor of London, this in turn forces women from lower income families out to work, meaning their children are "unloved and undisciplined" and therefore more likely to be out of education and employment and turn to crime.
Diane Abbott MP, Labour’s shadow public health minister and MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, told the Huffington Post UK Boris was attacking poorer families.
"I think Londoners are growing tired of Boris Johnson’s outlook on the world, and this kind of nasty, divisive rhetoric. The way Johnson is belittling women’s aspiration, and targeting poorer families like this is really unpleasant.
"Boris Johnson attacks poorer families in London if they work, and he also attacks poorer families if they are without work. And the truth is that higher income families often pursue careers too.
"It’s really important that we help people in London build the strong, secure families that people want. But there’s no place for this kind of incendiary rhetoric. Boris Johnson may find this kind of thing amusing, but I don't."
Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, said: "This is yet further proof that Boris's attitudes towards women are archaic and deeply out of touch - to suggest that women working will have 'adverse consequences for family life', or even more ridiculously, result in 'unloved children' is an enormous insult to working women everywhere and shows a complete lack of understanding of modern life and equal sharing of parental responsibility."
Boris' column said:
"The colossal expansion in the numbers of female graduates is in many ways a marvellous thing; but it has boosted the well-documented process of assortative mating, by which middle-class graduates marry middle-class graduates and thereby entrench their economic advantages, pooling their graduate incomes to push up house prices and increase the barriers to entry for the rest.
"The result is that in families on lower incomes the women have absolutely no choice but to work, often with adverse consequences for family life and society as a whole — in that unloved and undisciplined children are more likely to become hoodies, NEETS, and mug you on the street corner."
Boris then muses: "Of course I am in favour of women working, and the world would be far nicer if women ran it, but I sometimes wonder if they — we — really want to work quite so hard."
Former London mayoral candidate Jenny Jones, who ran against Boris in the latest elections, accused Boris of class and racial stereotyping. "The surprising thing about this fuss is that we are surprised," the Green Party London assembly member told HuffPost UK. "Behind Boris’ toffish charm is a deep unconscious sexism that often bubbles up. Also, I doubt Boris' qualifications to pontificate on this topic.
"It sounds suspiciously like class and racial stereotyping without much thought."
The London mayor has been touted by many as a suitable candidate for Prime Minister, including Tory MP Nadine Dorries, who said the Conservatives would be "idiots" not to make Boris leader of the party.
Toni Pearce, the president of the National Union of Students, dubbed Boris' comments on women going to university to find husbands "pathetically outdated".
"Boris’ comment was an idiotic response to a sensible answer to a sensible question. The Malaysian prime minister was rightly pointing out the value of education in liberating women and its power to change society for the better.
"This trivialisation of such an important topic and his determination to repeatedly reduce the value of education to women to simply an opportunity to meet a wealthy man implies a pathetically outdated attitude towards women. If he bothered to talk to the hundreds of thousands of women who are currently studying London and around the world he would see that their lists of motivations are long and varied and that ‘meet and marry a sexist’ appeared on none of them.
"Women in education are more likely to have money worries than their male peers, more likely to be returning to education after an absence and more likely to work during term-time and Boris should be ashamed of his cheap shot at their motivations."
Munira Mirza, Boris' deputy mayor for education and culture, graduated with a PhD in sociology. Her office refused to comment as to whether she had contributed to the rise in house prices.