"Tokenism has burst upon us like a thunderstorm," a Tory MP has said of David Cameron's reshuffle that saw him attempt to promote women at the expenses of male ministers.
Last week the prime minister engineered a major shake-up of his ministerial ranks which saw William Hague stand down from the Foreign Office and Michael Gove sacked as education secretary. The key message Cameron wanted voters to take from his reshuffle was that he had promoted of women, including Nicky Morgan and Liz Truss.
However Richard Drax, the Conservative MP for South Dorset, disparaging described the changes in government as the "Night of the Petticoats".
"I have no problem with women getting top jobs," he said on his blog. "But, they, like their male counterparts, must get there on merit, and not just because they are women and a quota needs to be filled by 2015."
In an earlier blog post, Drax also described Gove's demotion from education secretary to chief whip as "a very strange direction of travel". He may want to avoid the voting lobby toilets for a few days.
However another Tory MP, Richard Benyon, said the media coverage that claimed women had now secured an huge number of leading roles in government was misleading.
"Such was the at times absurd coverage you might have believed that the Conservative Party had lurched to a version of 1970s militant feminism. The truth is of course less extreme," he said.
Recalling Cameron's previous reshuffle, in which he lost his ministerial post, Benyon said on his own blog: "If that reshuffle was called "the night of the long drives", this one was written up as "the march of the women".
"In a week that saw the Church of England finally come to its sense over women Bishops we also saw some talented women MPs promoted. And some talented men."Suggest a correction