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Gender pay gap

(362 Posts)
FlyTipper Mon 14-May-18 08:08:00

The world divides into two: those who believe a gender pay gap exists, and those who don't.

Those who don't say women are doing different jobs. They are working part-time, prioritising home/family, do not want the high level responsibility and work load associated with high profile jobs. Thus women choose lower paid jobs because they prefer the conditions.

Those who believe it exists say two people presenting the same show or headlining the same film should be paid the same but clearly are not.

My position: women do different work and this largely explains the observed pay gap. But where the world is set up for men to succeed, women have to pick up the 'crumbs' they can. SO the pay gap doesn't truly exist, but that isn't because of women's choice.

As befits my character, I like to have my views tested. DO you agree?

Imchlibob Mon 14-May-18 08:21:29

It's a mixture. Many organisations do have equal pay for work of equal value but have structural sexism and uncontrolled unconscious bias in their recruitment and promotion procedures which mean that men are more likely to get promoted to the highest paying jobs. The structural sexism in society at large also means that millions of dads are missing out on the opportunity to be fully involved with raising their kids.

I guess there will always be a small pay gap as only women can give birth and breastfeed (if that is their feeding choice) but when we have a truly equal society the pay gap will correspond mathematically to the proportion of an average working life a woman spends doing things that only women can biologically do.

LaSqrrl Mon 14-May-18 08:24:18

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Opheliah Mon 14-May-18 08:49:06

It's been illegal to pay people different amounts for doing the same job for over 40 years so it's not a like-for-like pay gap.

Most companies have mainly males in the highest pay bracket and mostly females in the lowest pay bracket, who are working part time, working around childcare or taking carreer breaks for maternity, unlike the men. Women currently make up 62% of those earning less than the living wage, according to the Living Wage Foundation, so I agree with the above post that structural sexism leads to women excluded from higher paid jobs.

I'd say a sex pay gap does exist but then a Marxist would say a class based pay gap exists more firmly. It's tricky because women do get paid equally to men until they take time off for children then it drops off rapidly but those women will have husbands who support them and they'll be better or worse off depending on their class/upbringing.

FlyTipper Mon 14-May-18 08:49:49

Is the role of pay to achieve justice or equality though? Pay is related to: market forces (supply and demand) and value the work makes for the employers. How value is assessed is a contentious issue. Also, there are recruitment and employment biases.

I get annoyed with the claim that the pay gap exists because of the choices women make, when the reality is they have to make a choice from the jobs on offer that are structured to suit men. For example: my background is science and the postdoc employment structure favours single people willing to move and live off temporary, short term contracts. These postdocs feed into permanent lectureships. Low and behold, more men than women hold lectureships.

Imchlibob Mon 14-May-18 09:51:48

Opheliah just because it's been illegal for 40 years does not mean it never happens. Murder, theft, fraud etc etc have been illegal for even longer and they still keep happening too.

Our cultural distaste for being open about our salary helps this. In public sector organisations there are published pascal's and if you are in a band G job you will be on a specified salary in year 1 and will go up by a known increment each year but even then there is some disparity as there is always a little flexibility to start a new staff member on point 2 rather than point 1 of the scale - and someone who has been socialised to be assertive and entitled is more likely to push for that than someone who has been socialised to take a back seat.

In other sectors pay may not be on a published payscale at all and may be individually negotiated. In those circumstances it us entirely likely that gender disparity will emerge without any real justification in terns of work quality or quantity.

Imchlibob Mon 14-May-18 09:52:56

Sorry autocorrect turned payscales to pascal's.

TERFragetteCity Mon 14-May-18 09:56:19

It's been illegal to pay people different amounts for doing the same job for over 40 years so it's not a like-for-like pay gap.

I was a civil engineer and more qualified than my male peers. I still got 75% of the pay that they got. They insisted I worked more hours each week to make up for the slack that I was a female in a male job. by that I mean the manager used to make me stay behind after everyone else had gone home, for 2 ish hours, nearly every day. For no reason other than that I was female. Which meant I earnt even less per hour.

Just because something is illegal does not mean it doesn't happen. In many cases it IS a like-for-like pay gap.

RatRolyPoly Mon 14-May-18 10:31:53

I get annoyed with the claim that the pay gap exists because of the choices women make

I completely agree with you about this OP; a woman can make exactly the same choice as a man (e.g. to have a child with their partner), and for one of them that choice usually sets them back in their career and for the other it propels them forward.

That fact fails both women and men in heterosexual families, as one is shepherded down the path of domestic affairs due to frequently being the poorer earner with poorer prospects; and the domestic work needing doing! And the other being chained to the workplace by the family's need for money and their probably very real assessment that the man's job is likely to bring greater financial rewards for them all in the short, medium and long term.

So where is the choice? Women in this situation can go back to work and achieve whatever they are able, but they have to choose that frequently against what it best financially for their family. And men in this situation can stay at home with the children, take shared parental leave, be the parent on call/taking leave/going part time, but again this would frequently be the less financially rewarding option, even if it would emotionally rewarding.

I err on the side of thinking justice should be sought here for the good of women and men in society; men will not be free to choose the domestic roles associated with children until women are not financially disadvantaged or disadvantaged in terms of career progression by bearing them. And of course women will not be "free" to choose either.

But then it opens up that whole can of worms about how to square that with fairness for the women and men who don't have children.... It's a tough nut to crack!

FlyTipper Mon 14-May-18 11:31:24

Under the current system, fairness (as opposed to equality) for all amounts to squaring circles. In my radical new world, the whole world of work would be entirely restructured. Why do 'industry leaders' work 80 hour weeks? When I worked in science, postdocs were doing Mon-Fri 9-9 and often a shorter day or two at the weekends. They were being told to take holiday leave because it had built up so much. So this workaholic/presentee-ism spreads much further than the narrow limits of the City. When I taught in schools, the management tier worked crazy hours. Is it any wonder these echelons are occupied by men?

Childrenofthestones Mon 14-May-18 12:15:30

I found it interesting that some organisations that have had the most to say about gender pay gaps in the past had gender pay gaps themselves as employers when the figures came out.
The Gaurdian
The BBC
Several major Unions, in fact if I recall correctly GMB with something like 36% pay gap.
It is also interesting that since the figures came out it seems to have gone quiet on the subject and very little of it is in the media.

RatRolyPoly Mon 14-May-18 13:05:48

When I taught in schools, the management tier worked crazy hours. Is it any wonder these echelons are occupied by men?

I absolutely agree, and the fact that it has become this way is indicative of men having pressed their advantage (not necessarily as a deliberate move to overshadow women I shouldn't think); but pressed the freedom they have to exploit their own free time - of which they have historically had lots on account of reduced caring duties when compared to women - and using that to get ahead over and above other men.

So here we are now with a situation where men compete with men to get ahead in a system where only men (or to a lesser degree those with fewer caring responsibilities) have the capacity to succeed.

I agree that this mad situation of working crazy hours is not conducive to the equality of opportunity for women to succeed in the workplace; so I think I rather like you radical new world!

FlyTipper Mon 14-May-18 15:44:45

Right, Rat. That's two of us. Anyone else? I've always thought part-time work for everyone would be one of the first moves to make. Then I discovered that's one of the Green Party's proposals. I guess with approaching machinageddon, we'll all have more free time....<exits thread to plot out next novel>

fmsfms Mon 14-May-18 15:47:50

"The world divides into two: those who believe a gender pay gap exists, and those who don't."

There are actually several camps.

A) Those who incorrectly believe that women are paid less than men for the same work (probably due to poor reporting on the issue by the media)

B) Those who are aware that women on average earn less than men over the course of their careers/lifetimes, and believe this is because of patriarchy/discrimination.

C) Those who are aware that women on average earn less than men over the course of their careers/lifetimes, and believe this is because men and women are different and make different choices.

You can then divide Camp C) between those who believe male/female differences are because of nature vs nurture.

Of course it's not so black and white to say these differences are either 100% nature or 100% nurture, neither should be disregarded.

The nature evidence suggests women are more interested in people, men are more interested in things. Hence why more women do nursing, teaching, caring professions.

There is also plenty of evidence that suggests that the personality differences between the sexes and the gender gap in professions GETS BIGGER as a society becomes more equal

"In other words, in prosperous and egalitarian countries, people are free to pursue their respective career interests. Since men and women are innately different, they pursue different vocations based on dissimilar interests. Therefore, equal representation is an inaccurate measure of gender egalitarianism, simply because in egalitarian countries, gender gaps are the most robust."

quillette.com/2017/07/15/time-stop-worrying-first-world-gender-gaps/

This was also reflected in the Nordic Countries, those that are recognised as pursuing gender equality more than anywhere else in the world - their gender gaps only got bigger.

This Norwegian documentary on the Nordic Gender Equality Paradox is excellent, as is the entire series. Each episode discusses a different aspect of nature vs nurture and speaks to both gender/social scientists as well as traditional sciences

www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVaTc15plVs&t=3s

Mannix Mon 14-May-18 15:51:46

I think that a significant reason for the pay gap is fewer women doing STEM subjects at school/uni, and these are associated with higher pay.

So for example over 80% of nursing / midwifery students are female, whereas over 80% of computer science / engineering students are male.

So you could say that it is a result of the choices that girls make, but there is a strong argument that girls are expected / encouraged to do certain subjects.

We need to tackle this in the teenage years!

fmsfms Mon 14-May-18 15:55:50

I'd also point out that historically the state retirement age for women has been younger than men. Whilst this is planned to be equalised it won’t be for another couple of years. There was also a recent article that said more women are working past 50 than ever before, but the number is still less than men.

So if women stop working at a younger age than men, then of course men on average are going to earn more than women.

That’s a non-patriarchy/discrimination explanation for the earnings gap (earnings gap is a far more accurate description)

PreviouslyQuiteUnderpaid Mon 14-May-18 16:08:56

My company claims to have equal pay since having been required to publish the gender pay gap figures but a lot of women received a significant off-cycle pay rise in March 2017 to make the figures match the statement. So yes, I believe in the gender pay gap and I believe that a lot of women haven't received equal pay for equal work either.

FlyTipper Mon 14-May-18 19:02:22

fmsfms - the pay gap - whatever the cause - starts before 50.As you say, there are many ways of measuring the pay gap - lifetime earning being just one.

The Nordic evidence, oft-quoted by the camp who believe a pay gap exits for entirely benevolent reasons, does not necessarily reveal gender preferences. For many feminists, the reason for persistent or even ever widening differences between the sexes is entrenched sexism. It is so entrenched, we apparently don't even notice it. European women are free to pursue whatever society deems it right for women to pursue i.e. caring for others. In the developing world, where needs must, women turn their hands to anything that will feed the family, be that hard labour, computer programming or farming.

fmsfms Mon 14-May-18 19:17:52

@Flytipper

"the pay gap - whatever the cause - starts before 50"

I never said it didn't start before 50.

"there are many ways of measuring the pay gap - lifetime earning being just one."

What? This doesn't make any sense. Surely the only earning comparison that matters is average earnings over an entire career - anything else is just cherrypicking

"The Nordic evidence, oft-quoted by the camp who believe a pay gap exits for entirely benevolent reasons, does not necessarily reveal gender preferences. For many feminists, the reason for persistent or even ever widening differences between the sexes is entrenched sexism. It is so entrenched, we apparently don't even notice it. European women are free to pursue whatever society deems it right for women to pursue i.e. caring for others. In the developing world, where needs must, women turn their hands to anything that will feed the family, be that hard labour, computer programming or farming."

Oh dear, you've misunderstood that argument entirely I'm afraid.

a) The Nordic Countries have tried harder than anywhere else in the world to reduce the gender gap in certain professions eg encouraging more women into STEM and reducing social stigma around professions. BUT THE GAP GOT BIGGER

"European women are free to pursue whatever society deems it right for women to pursue i.e. caring for others."

"In the developing world, where needs must, women turn their hands to anything that will feed the family, be that hard labour, computer programming or farming.""

You're contradicting yourself or you don't realise that these quotes don't mean what you think they mean.

More equal/free/liberal Countries = more freedom for women to pursue their own interests.

Less free/equal Countries then the only way for women to progress is by pursuing professions that increase their earning potential

FlyTipper Mon 14-May-18 19:36:30

Oh dear.

More equal/free/liberal Countries = more freedom for women to pursue the prescribed norms for their sex their own interests.

Less free/equal Countries then the only way for women to progress is by pursuing professions that increase their earning potential thus giving them reason to work against gender stereotypes

I think you underestimate the degree to which social conditioning affects every aspect of women's lives in our so-called 'free' continent. That means you are new to this board, or a man, or both. I suggest you get clued up by reading Cordelia Fine's Delusions of Gender.

AssassinatedBeauty Mon 14-May-18 19:40:54

It's interesting that the Nordic paradox is used as incontrovertible evidence that women want to and choose to do low paid low status "nurturing" people focussed jobs. As if the measures taken by Nordic countries have definitely counteracted hundreds and hundreds of years of social control of women.

RatRolyPoly Mon 14-May-18 19:42:46

Again I agree with you FlyTipper.

I don't think I've ever agreed with someone so much on the Feminist board! grin

Do either of you have a link to any pertinent studies of the Nordic countries' efforts and their results?

TransExclusionaryMRA Mon 14-May-18 19:51:38

Don’t forget the gender tax gap, men on average pay much more into the system and comparatively take less out of it as well. The choices women do have are often subsidized by men.

We can have a conversation on what we’re all socialised to do, wether it’s to go out and be wage slaves for the majority of our working lives or chained to the proverbial kitchen sink. Neither outcome is particularly great if it’s forced on you.

The difference between men and women is that the pressures placed upon men is enforced at the point of a gun. The pressures women face are societal in nature.

The argument that women are the only losers in this equation is fallacious. If society is set up for the exclusive benefit of men then it’s doing a shit job it!

I have seen on here the position than I shouldn’t question the “lived experience” of any woman, and you know what? Fine I can do that, but then it also stands to reason no woman can question my “lived experience” as a man. This also therefore leaves us in the position of forever being unable to actually define who actually has it worse.

TransExclusionaryMRA Mon 14-May-18 19:53:52

Oh I can also take the obvious rebuttal that are lot of men’s choices are subsidized by the often unpaid labour undertaken on our behalf’s by the women in our live. I would accept that as true too.

FlyTipper Mon 14-May-18 20:02:43

Why do you want to define who has it worse? People are advantaged or disadvantaged in many different ways for may different reasons. No one has ever said that all men have advantages over all women. Class, race, religion and so on come into it. But to deny that, all things equal, men and women have the same prospects in jobs, life choices and so on is simply wrong.

Don’t forget the gender tax gap, men on average pay much more into the system and comparatively take less out of it as well. The choices women do have are often subsidized by men. Perhaps they take out less because they don't go through childbirth (believe me, this involves a lot of 'taking out of the system'). Or because women pick up the care of their children while the men scarper. Or because men kill themselves when they are young, and then don't live as long as women.

Besides, if men earn more, what's wrong with them paying more in taxes?

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