There is indeed a gender pay gap. That hasn’t changed, even though the size of it has. What does change is the explanation for why it does exist. It used to be that we were told that men and women were the same, therefore any pay gap must be because the patriarchy! Discrimination! Sexist Pigs! Now we’re told it is because men and women are different.
At which point we might ask them to make up their minds.
Women will take another 40 years to close the wage gap with men, according to groundbreaking research by UCL – but the coronavirus pandemic could help them catch up.
The team of researchers who used data from Labour force surveys to track the gender pay from 1921 to the present day found the rate at which women in Britain were closing the gap has slowed in the past two decades to under 0.5 per cent a year.
This is not groundbreaking, the Fawcett Society releases such a count each and every year.
With the raw wage gap for all employees standing at 17 per cent between men and women, that means it will take between 35 and 40 years at the current rate to achieve parity.
Anyone trying to use the raw wage gap as a guide to policy or even commentary is being misleading, indulging in casuistry. For this is the mixture of all of the things that lead to there being a difference between the average pay for men and that for women. Lumping together such things as time in the workforce, educational qualifications, tolerance of risk, physical heft in the few places that is still relevant, desire over what is to be gained out of life and on and on. Plus whatever influence there still is from sexism, discrimination and the patriarchy.
At which point, no one can observe pays gaps of any statistical importance between men and women doing the same jobs, for the same period of time, for the same number of hours. All of that observed gap is explained by things other than discrimination between equal people doing the same thing.
The new explanation being:
Professor Alex Bryson, who headed the Government-funded study, said a key factor was women continuing to take prime responsibility for childcare even in countries which had the most women-friendly workplaces such as Scandinavia
OK, so on average it is women who do the child rearing. The surprise of this in a mammalian and sexually dimorphic species is what?
The other way to approach this is to invert Einstein. Who said that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result was a useful definition of insanity. The inversion being that if people do different things then why should they earn the same amount? To assume or insist they should is to be insane.
Or, as this new research doesn’t say but does tell us. The gender pay gap is ‘cos mens and wimmins is different, see?