That Gender Pay Gap Again

Melanie McDonagh puts it about right:

Well, not so fast. There are two ways of looking at these figures. One can be summed up by The Guardian\’s take on the story: "Study finds a third of mothers slip down the career ladder". Another might be that some women are deciding to walk right off, or indeed under, the career ladder to do something better instead. Indeed, the whole metaphor of a career ladder is pretty loaded, suggesting that the only thing to be done is get to the top of it.

Obviously, given a choice between a highly-paid and stimulating part-time job and a rubbish part-time job, no one would voluntarily opt for the latter, and the Economic Journal report makes that clear.

But what the discussion leaves entirely out of account is whether the woman is making a rational choice in opting for part-time work in the first place. What if she actually enjoys spending time with her children and regards the trade-off as being worthwhile? What if you put the argument differently: "Women opt for better quality of life as opposed to running themselves ragged in the rat-race"?

The woman in question may indeed be earning less than her baby\’s father but she may feel that she, at least, is getting to see the baby make its way in the world rather than hearing about it from the childminder. It may be why, according to a report by the Equal Opportunities Commission, 80 per cent of full-time working mothers would prefer to work part-time.

This is indeed the most important question about the pay gap, about part time working mothers, about "downskilling" and all the rest. Is it the result of the choices made by the people involved, or is it something imposed upon them from outside, against their will?

If it\’s the former, then what is everyone getting so het up about?

There\’s Another Way of Looking At This

Women managers wanting to work part-time after a baby are seeing their talents and qualifications wasted because they can only find employment well below their skill levels, according to the most comprehensive UK study of the impact of motherhood on careers.

Almost half of women professionals who downgrade to lower skilled part-time roles move to jobs where the average employee does not have A-levels, leaving three years or more of higher level education and training underused, according to academics at Oxford University and University of East Anglia.

OK, say it\’s true. That means that much of the money spnt on educating such women is wasted.

Therefore we ought to stop so educating.

No, I didn\’t think that anyone would like that conclusion, but it is a logical one.

Working Mothers

Millions of highly-qualified women see their careers collapse once they have children because employers will not let them work flexibly or part-time, a new study claims.

One in four professional women leaves her job after starting a family, with almost half having to move into jobs where the average employee lacks even A-levels, it says.

The research underlines how mothers of young children fall off the career ladder, experiencing a dramatic loss of status and pay. The situation has the effect of wasting the talents of Britain\’s most highly qualified women.

I skipped through this full report and I had trouble understanding the point that was being made. Or, rather, the possible solution.

Women managers are among the worst affected. One in three corporate managers moves down the occupational ladder and almost half of those who manage shops, salons and restaurants return to lesser positions.

How can these jobs be done part time?

Interesting Stuff on the Part Time Pay Gap

From the upcoming Economic Journal,

Women in Britain who work part-time have, on average, hourly earnings about 25% less than that of women working full-time. This gap has widened greatly over the past 30 years. This article tries to explain this part-time pay penalty. It shows that a sizeable part of the penalty can be explained by the differing characteristics of FT and PT women. Inclusion of standard demographics halves the esti- mate of the pay penalty. But inclusion of occupation makes the pay penalty very small, suggesting that almost the entire unexplained gap is due to occupational segregation. The rise in the pay penalty over time is partly a result of a rise in occupational segregation and partly the general rise in wage inequality. Policies to reduce the pay penalty have had little effect and it is likely that it will not change much unless better jobs can be made available on a part-time basis.

So, the part time pay gap is something like 12.5% when you account for the differences between the people doing the full and part time work (note, not the 36% that the Fawcett Society blather on about) and just about zero when you account for the fact that people are doing different jobs.

As pay is, in the end, determined by how many people there are willing and able to do a job as against how many people wish that job to be done (ie, our old friends, supply and demand)  it\’s difficult to reject the conclusion that there is in fact no part time pay gap.

And thus no problem to solve.

The Fawcett Society on the Gender Pay Gap

Here\’s what the Fawcett Society says on its web page aout the gender pay gap.

Women working full-time are paid on average 17% less an hour than men (or 36% less if they work part-time).

I wrote to them to complain.

The 36% number is reached by comparing male full time wages to female part time wages. If you compare male part time wages to female part time wages then the gap is 11% (in the private sector). The EOC, where the original calculation comes from, made this clear, that they were comparing full to part time wages. As you can see, the Fawcett Society do not.

Their response: 

The figures that we provide do not \’misinform\’ journalists. The 36% figure compares women working part-time to men working full-time. This is a valid comparison to make, because one of the major issues in pay inequality is that part-time work, disproportionately carried out by women due to caring responsibilities, is undervalued and there is not enough good quality part-time work. This comparison demonstrates this point. For these reasons, the part-time pay gap has always been calculated this way, not just by Fawcett but by the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Government.

They\’ve not got it, have they? My complaint is that they do note make the full time/part time calculation clear. Which they don\’t.

Glory Be!

The Observer is now being infested with some of the glorious feminist nuttery of The Guradian!*

Even those female friends who are determined to keep their surname concede, in most cases, that their husband will keep his own and pass it on to their children.

These are women I would call feminists. They want successful careers, comparable salaries and partners prepared to share the childcare. Yet here is one custom that many of them have never questioned. Nor have their partners. Adam is the first man I have come across who would happily change his surname to that of his wife.

\’It\’s traditional; it\’s expected; it\’s the way I imagined it would be,\’ my friend Rosie explained after I brought it up over a drink. An hour later and we had not come up with one good reason why. The only point that had any logic to me was the notion of a \’family name\’ for parents and children, but then why should it be the man\’s?

Given 30 seconds I managed to come up with a reason: we know who the mother of a child is, we don\’t (always) know who the father is. Thus the name signifies who we think it is.

I\’m also rather amused by this insistence that women should not give up their family name….one which, in the course of things is in fact their father\’s, not their mother\’s.

But where did it come from? In his book Face of Britain, The Observer\’s Robin McKie writes that surnames were introduced during Norman times, when authorities wanted a way to assign ownership of business and property. The surname became an ancient form of the identity card, McKie argues, and the reason that it was passed down through the male was simple: men owned everything and women inherited nothing.

That\’s a pretty odd view of British history. In those times when land ownership was strictly tied to military service (something which didn\’t last all that long) it also wasn\’t strictly tied to inheritance. And I\’m not sure that there has ever been a time when "women owned nothing" nor when "women inherited nothing".

We\’ll be getting Polly in the paper soon enough, you mark my words.

* There is something of a battle going on in the two papers, merging their quite distinctive voices into a rolling 7 day operation. So expect more of this to happen, modern liberals taking over what still is, in many ways, an historically liberal paper.

Gender Equality

In 1970, for instance, 0.6% of General Motors\’ students of engineering were female. Se.ven years later, they had risen to 32%

And GM\’s been going bust since the mid-70s. Correlation or causation?

Larry Summers Was Right!

You\’ll recall of course that Larry Summers ended up losing his job for stating as an hypothesis that men have greater variance around the mean than women do.

Unfortunately for the Harvard faculty, he was correct:

Helena Cronin, philosopher at the London School of Economics and director of [email protected], a research group devoted to what Darwinism can tell us about human nature.

"I used to think that patterns of sex differences resulted mainly from average differences between men and women in innate talents, tastes and temperaments … Add to this some bias and barriers – a sexist attitude here, a lack of childcare there – and the sex differences are explained. Or so I thought … But they alone don\’t fully explain the differences … Females are much of a muchness, clustering round the mean. But, among males, the variance – the difference between the most and the least, the best and the worst – can be vast.

"So males are almost bound to be over-represented both at the bottom and at the top. I think of this as \’more dumbbells but more Nobels\’… Unfortunately, however, this is not the prevailing perspective in current debates, particularly where policy is concerned."

Blithering Idiots

The proud motto of northern Europe’s crack rapid-reaction force is ad omnia paratus. Prepared for everything, everywhere. But the heraldic lion above the Latin tag now sends a less plucky message – he has just been digitally emasculated and, though technically still a lion rampant, he does not seem to be ready for anything, anywhere.

The change was implemented after a group of women Swedish soldiers protested that they could not identify with such an ostentatiously male lion on their army crest. A complaint of sex discrimination was then lodged with the European Court of Justice.

“We were forced to cut the lion’s willy off with the aid of a computer,” Christian Braunstein, from the Tradition Commission of the Swedish Army, said.

Now the Nordic Battlegroup, a force of 2,400 soldiers, is looking deeply embarrassed. For sceptics who already consider the Nordic Battlegroup to be something of an oxymoron – it is led by the Swedes, who were last in battle in 1809 – the operation on the lion is not an auspicious omen.

“A castrated lion – the perfect symbol for European defence policy,” an American military blogger sneered.

They seem not to have noted that said lion still has a mane.

Amandaism of the Day

….and probably linked to rising rates of cancers in both men and women.

Err, which reality is Ms. Marcotte living in? As we all know, age adjusted cancer rates are falling (and as we all also know, age adjusted is the way you should measure cancer incidence).

Feminism and Sex

I was entirely prepared to believe this idea, that feminists are in fact better in bed. Then I started reading:

Feminists are happier in love and better in bed. I\’m extrapolating a wee bit optimistically, but it\’s cheering to come across a study about the f-word that doesn\’t conclude 99% of respondents think the women\’s movement was about unshaved armpits. What the Rutgers researchers actually found was that, in a survey of college students and older adults, all in heterosexual relationships, men paired with feminist partners reported greater relationship stability and sexual satisfaction.


This will doubtless do little to dispel the popular myth that the majority of feminists are man-hating lesbians

No you silly cow. Studying people, all of whom are in heterosexual relationships, tells you entirely bugger all about anyone who is lesbian, man-hating or not.

I stopped reading at that point.


Well, Quite.

Not much that can be argued about here:

This was Gordon Brown\’s big idea in his Queen\’s Speech. Focus groups for both parties put the work/life balance as one of their top three concerns. In his speech to the Labour Party conference, the Prime Minister told women they could have nine months\’ paid maternity leave; now he plans to extend flexible working to all parents of children under 16 and to tell companies that they must allow mothers to stay at home while their children are doing exams and during holidays.

But this is going to harm rather than help women. What company would want to employ someone who not only wanted a year off after the birth of each child, but demanded to work 9.30am to 2.30pm, took off June to revise times tables, insisted on four months a year at home for the school holidays and disappeared every time one of their children coughed? The only company I know that does this is the Treasury and that is because the taxpayer is picking up the bill.

The gender pay gap is, as we have all noted ad nauseam, actually a parent pay gap. Making parents more expensive to employ will simply make the gap larger.

Giselle Bundchen

Err, Jeff?

By contrast, the beautiful Ms Bündchen, a catwalk superstar, has a figure that turns heads and a head that turns figures. She looks like a million bucks but refuses to be paid in dollars. She has worked out that accumulating assets in a depreciating currency is a mug\’s game.

You did spot that she (or rather, her sister, who is her manager) denied the paying in euros story?

Behind the greenback\’s slide towards "toilet currency" status is a 25-year binge by US consumers and government, hell bent on spending more than they earn. Warren Buffett, the legendary investor, explains: "Our country has been behaving like an extraordinarily rich family that possesses an immense farm. In order to consume more than we produce – that\’s the trade deficit – we have, day by day, been both selling pieces of the farm and increasing the mortgage on what we still own… goodbye pleasure, hello pain."

Well, actually, no.  The chickens that are coming home to roost are the effects of the dollar being over valued for the last decade or more. That over valuation is what has caused the trade deficit. The solution is thus that the dollar should fall in value relative to other currencies. Much as I personally hate it (the majority of my income is in $) that part of what is going on, the falling dollar, is in fact the solution, the right thing to be happening.


Yvonne Roberts


Women working full time earn 17% less than the full-time male salary. While this is down to a variety of factors, discrimination is at the root.

Whether discrimination is at the root or not is what we want to find out, not our starting assumption. When we do look in more detail and we find that there is no pay gap for lesbians, that never married no children women earn more than their male counterparts, that the pay gap is very small indeed, widens considerably in the prime child bearing years and then shrinks again we might in fact come to the conclusion that the gender pay gap has something to do with…..children!

Just like the exorbitant scale applied to the talent of superstars, the value given to a particular job at times appears arbitrary. Why, for instance, in 2006, did a car mechanic earn £9.72 an hour while a childminder earned £2 less? Don\’t say it\’s down to the difference in skill, since childminding now requires its own set of qualifications and standards. To "care" is no longer enough.

Err, lemme think. Could it be supply and demand?

Why not make it a legal obligation for all companies, large and small, as well as the self-employed to publish salary details and tax obligations of all employees (not just those on the board) in a manner accessible to all?

Err, because they\’re private contracts perhaps? You know, something personal like, something that people may keep hidden if they so wish? If such contracts are to be revealed then there\’s no reason that all contracts should not be published, is there?

That\’s a Thatcherite view of society in which unions are redundant and what the individual wants counts for more than a collective consensus of what is right, fair and just.

Ah, that\’s the real reason. You shouldn\’t do what you want as individuals, you should subject yourself to the tyranny of the majority.