And now the Fawcett Society is simply flat out lying

Well, I suppose that there\’s glory in being copied. The Adam Smith Insitute has for years been calculating Tax Freedom Day. The day when we start working for ourselves having paid off the exactions of the State. So the Fawcett Society is copying that idea over the gender pay gap.

Today is the day when women stop getting paid:

Women will effectively work for nothing for the rest of the year because of the difference in pay with men, a study claims.

As I say, there\’s a certain glory in having one of your gambits copied.

There is an interesting little point they make:

\’The Equality Bill offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform equal pay law and stamp out the pay gap. We urge the Government to place a legal duty on employers to check for and rectify any gender pay gaps – a measure supported by the vast majority of the British public. Women must also be given greater access to justice by enabling representative actions and the use of hypothetical comparators in discrimination claims.

There\’s three stages to this gender pay gap. Firstly, that men and women, with the same qualifications, doing the same hours and the same job, get equal pay. This has largely been achieved: there are a few where greater male physical strength leads to still higher male pay and there are a few (nursing seems to be one) where women earn more than men.

Then there\’s equal pay for jobs of equal value. This is more difficult as of course rampant free marketeers like myself would point out that wages are the valuation of a job. Thus if wages are not equal then the jobs are not of equal value. However, that battle has been lost and there are indeed comparisons made between, say, council dustmen and council dinner ladies. So be it.

However, what they\’re asking for there, with \”hypothetical comparators\” is that there doesn\’t have to be another job which can be shown, even with the odd standards of version 2 there, to be of equal value. They get to just make it all up. That might well be a step too far.

Especially as, if we go and look at the actual press release, there\’s a number of troubling statements:

the overwhelming majority of the British public supports the introduction of a legal requirement on employers to conduct pay audits in order to stamp out the gender pay gap

Well, you see, there\’s no evidence whatsoever that such pay audits would in fact stamp out the gender pay gap. To take as an example, Sweden, a society which takes such matters a great deal more seriously than we do. Their pay gap (by a different measure) is around 15% while ours (on that same different measure) is around 17%. If the gender pay gap is something as deep rooted that a society like Sweden cannot root it out then pay audits (and I\’ve no idea whether Sweden has them or not…ah, actually, the Fawcett Society itself says they do have them. So they\’re not a solution.) aren\’t going to manage it. So the answer to the question is meaningless. It\’s like asking \”would you support the growing of cucmbers in order to extract moonbeams which will cure cancer\”? As moon beams won\’t cure cancer nor will pay audits stamp out the gender pay gap.

\”48% of men and 32% of women believe that on the whole men and women receive equal pay for doing jobs of equal value. This suggests that they are unaware of the gender pay gap\”

No, it doesn\’t. For that\’s a case of petitio principii. First it is necessary to prove that the gender pay gap is caused by jobs of equal value not receiving the same pay.

When they are told that “women are paid on average 23% less than men for doing jobs of equal value”, 94% of the public agree that it is important to eliminate the gender pay gap

Similarly: what is at issue is whether the statement about the pay gap is true, not whether people believe it to be morally wrong if that statement is true.

The (mean) average gender pay gap in Great Britain – including full-time and part-time work – is 21.2%.

Oh dearie me. They\’re still going on about the mean gap when they\’ve been told very forcefully that they shouldn\’t be talking about the mean they should be talking about the median. You\’ll recall that the Statistics Authority got very het up about this and actually issued a rebuke to Harry Harperson on the matter?

The reason being (and come along now girls at the Fawcett Society, math isn\’t all that hard you know!) that we\’re trying here to describe the experience of the average person. That is the median, the average person, the middle person in the population. When we describe wages we really shouldn\’t be describing means because there is an absolute lower bound (of £0 per year) while there is no upper bound. As we know that the very tippy toppy of the income distribution is dominated by men then using the mean will give us very skewed figures for that mean as against the median.

From memory the correct figure here is actually 12.8%, which is the median gender pay gap.

We urge the Government to place a legal duty on employers to check for and rectify any gender pay gaps –

And that is really rather a huge demand. \”Any gender pay gaps\”? Even those that come from differences in working hours, working patterns, human capital, choices made by the workers themselves?

And now here comes the big lie:

The pay gap is caused by discrimination (the single largest cause), a lack of flexible working and the undervaluation of traditional women’s work).

No, discrimination is not the largest cause of the gender pay gap. If anything, it\’s the smallest cause of it. Further, you\’ll actually find that flexible working is one of the causes of that pay gap, not a solution to it: for some women value flexibility of working hours over pay. Thus they make a trade off and get flexible working hours and receive less pay for the hours that they do work. This is known in the real world as making choices and all choices involve both costs and benefits.

But the important thing to concentrate on is that big lie: that the largest single cause is discrimination. No, it ain\’t, it just simply isn\’t. The largest single cause is \”children\”.

If this is the level of analysis that the ladies at Fawcett are going to try to bring to matters of public policy: you know, this never mind the damn facts, that\’s just soooo male, I know, I can feel it instead, then they can bugger off back into the kitchen and bake me a pie.

Y\’all can come back into the front room and rejoin the adults when you\’re prepared to consider the real world evidence but not while you insist upon whatever you\’ve cooked up in a kaffeeklatch.

2 comments on “And now the Fawcett Society is simply flat out lying

  1. Tim,

    I’ve been reading your blog for two or three years now, and for as long as I can remember you’ve been going on about this issue and it’s quite obvious that you are right and they are wrong, yet they continue spouting the same myths.

    When you create a post on this matter do you send a link back to the person or group who brought the matter up?

    How long must we endure this idiocy?

    Tim adds: My influence on these things? Minor but it might just be there. I’ve been banging on about the gender pay gap for a long time, it’s true, and I might have been able to prevent a few abuses of language (like, for example, they now put “mean” in, they now put “part time pay gap is part time women to full time men”, both things they didn’t used to do) but other than that, no, they know they’re lying so they continue to do so whatever others say.

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