Kirstie Allsopp baby remarks 'patronising'
Kirstie Allsopp's suggestion that young women should ditch university in favour of finding a boyfriend and having a baby by the age of 27 are "rather patronising" to teenage girls, a leading headmistress has said.
Jo Heywood, head of Heathfield School, a girls' school in Ascot, said she applauded the property guru's point that girls should consider their futures, but said it had been spoilt by her talk of "boyfriends and babies".
In an interview with the Telegraph, TV presenter Kirstie suggested that it was time to speak "honestly and frankly" about fertility and the fact that it declines dramatically once a woman is in her mid-30s.
"At the moment, women have 15 years to go to university, get their career on track, try and buy a home and have a baby," she said. "That is a hell of a lot to ask someone. As a passionate feminist, I feel we have not been honest enough with women about this issue."
Allsopp later went on to say: "I don't have a girl, but if I did I'd be saying 'Darling, do you know what? Don't go to university. Start work straight after school, stay at home, save up your deposit - I'll help you, let's get you into a flat. And then we can find you a nice boyfriend and you can have a baby by the time you're 27."
She added that women have time to work on their career after they have had children.
"I don't want the next generation of women to go through the heartache that my generation has," Kirstie said.
"At the moment we are changing the natural order of things, with grandparents being much older and everyone squeezed in the middle. Don't think 'my youth should be longer'. Don't go to university because it's an 'experience'. No, it's where you're supposed to learn something! Do it when you're 50!"
But Ms Heywood said that youngsters need to make the right choices at the right time for themselves.
"Teenagers should always be encouraged to go to university or straight to work for the right reasons, and should be encouraged to choose the path which suits them - not the one that is likely to ensure they can buy property or have a baby by the most immediate route," she said.
"I would never encourage a bright teenager to ditch their university prospects for fear they won't 'have it all' in the future. I believe having it all is a total myth - it is more a case of doing what is right for you and making the right choices at the right time for you."
Writing for the Independent School Parent website, Ms Heywood said she thought that a graduate with a good degree would be likely to be able to buy their first flat around the same age as someone who has worked from the age of 16 or 18, if not sooner.
"I applaud what Kirstie is saying in principle - that girls should consider their future and security - but I think she spoils her point by suggesting abandoning university is the way forward and her talk of boyfriends and babies is rather patronising for the generation I am preparing for university and beyond."