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We Can't Afford This Obsession With the 'Gender Pay Gap'

EntrepreneurCountry Global Tuesday, 06 September 2011.

We Can't Afford This Obsession With the 'Gender Pay Gap'

The latest gender pay statistics have provoked the usual storm of nonsense. Apparently, the Government should increase regulatory burdens on businesses, at a time when our economy is seriously faltering. Along with employers, government should also ensure women at work are "nurtured", whatever that means. Surely it is time we moved on to a proper reasoned discussion about these figures.

Contrary to the Fawcett Society spin, these figures do not show that the patriarchal oppressors are subjugating women at every opportunity they get. In fact they show a diverse picture where people make different choices and there are financial consequences for those decisions. Yes, there are more women in lower paid jobs. Yes, there are more women in part-time roles and yes, those roles tend to pay less. Yet, according to these latest figures female junior executives are now being paid an extra £602 on average compared to male executives at the same level. What does this actually show? Crucially it reveals that people make different decisions about what they want from a job and how they want to live. It also shows that people have different experiences and skills they bring to a job. It is reasonable to expect that an employer will reward people differently depending on the skills and experience they have.

One publication asserts: “The average women will be cheated out of £330,000 in her lifetime. That is 717 Vivienne Westwood tartan Bedrock bags.” Putting aside the outrageous triviality of such a statement (as if women can only understand something if there is a fashion metaphor involved), it is also simply not true. The alleged pay gap is simply not comparing like for like. People are not robots. If these statistics allow us to make any generalised statements about the trends of choices women make, it may be they show us that women do tend to take more responsibility with regard to childcare and elder care, and they do tend to opt to put family above career. These are vast stereotypes though, conflating many different people making many different choices. Even then the data tell us nothing about why different women make different choices.

Read the rest of the article on The Daily Telegraph website.

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