Umm, this ain\’t discrimination you know….

The BMA is getting het up about pay differences between male and female doctors.

The study examined the pay of 1,015 doctors working for the NHS, in medical research at academic institutions, and for organisations such as private healthcare providers. While part of the pay gap is due to age and experience, between 40% and 50% of the difference is caused by discrimination, the study found.

One of the report\’s authors, Dr Anita Holdcroft, emeritus professor of anaesthesia at Imperial, accused male NHS managers of taking advantage of the poor negotiating power of women. Referring to what the report describes as a \”hostile culture\”, she gave the example of women with children who have limited room to manoeuvre because managers know they are unlikely to uproot their family and move elsewhere. By contrast, men can win pay rises by threatening to leave.

That people with different economic power (I\’ll leave if you don\’t pay me more) get different wages is not in fact evidence of discrimination. Or at least, not in the sense that it is being used here.

In the other sense, it is of course evidence of discrimination: the employer is discriminating between those with different amounts of economic power.

Among Britain\’s 40,521 consultants, men on average earn £13,729 more than similarly successful female colleagues. That pay gap worsens the longer a female consultant has worked. Although more female than male consultants earn between £62,500 and £95,000, more men than women have salaries between £110,000 and £190,000.

The report ain\’t out until Friday so I can\’t see how they reached those figures. But I would bet that there is at least some occupational segregation there. Surgeons tend to get paid more than other consultants, surgeons are more likely to be men than other consultant specialties. For \”consultant\” is not one job.

However, much more important is this:

What is being found is that the female consultants treat 20% fewer patients than their male counterparts. It might be to do with working hours, with child care responsibilities, or it might be to do with methods of treatment.

If productivity is being measured by patients seen (which doesn\’t sound unlikely in our target driven culture) then by the way that productivity is being measured female consultants are less productive than male. So, of course, it\’s entirely natural that they should be paid less.

5 thoughts on “Umm, this ain\’t discrimination you know….”

  1. As soon as I hear of Harriet Harman intentionally eating in a bad restaurant I’ll stop believing in discrimination.

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