We should in fact celebrate that the gender pay gap discussion is moving along. Closer to something which identifies the actual problem at hand, at least gets to grips with why there is one in the first place.
We measure by the averages – we should use median but all too often use mean – across all men and women in an organisation or the economy. We should distinguish between part and full time and all too often do not. But our pay gap exists because decisions on what to do with a life seem to differ across genders – on average of course. That’s it, that’s the pure and sole cause of what we see in the numbers.
Which leads us to the big question concerning this:
The Greater London Authority (GLA) is set to become the first and largest public body to introduce a city-wide leadership scheme to tackle the shortage of women in senior positions and reduce the gender pay gap.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said he was spearheading the women in leadership push – pairing high-potential women with both male and female senior staff members across London bodies – to give more women access to professional networks, opportunities and contacts needed to progress in an organisation.
“It is shameful that in 2018 women remain underrepresented at all levels of government and leadership roles,” he said.
“As a proud feminist, I want London to be a shining light in the fight for gender equality. I am pleased that we are showing the way, launching the first and biggest initiative like this in the public sector.”
I guess we could do this simply by promoting the best candidate at each point. That this is dismissed as simple ignorance shows that none of us does think that promotion comes from being the best candidate. “Networking” is code for “who you know” of course – or perhaps whose sphincter has been licked along the way. But the very fact that simply being good at the job is not regarded a enough to gain promotion shows that there’s an agreement that there’s something wrong with this basic method, does’t it?
A useful answer being to promote on competence, not familiarity with sphincters perhaps, rather than just introducing people to more of them.
But note how we have advanced here. It isn’t that there’s systemic discrimination against women any more. It’s also not that women are paid less than men for the same job. It’s that there are fewer highly paid women around relative to men. So, we all do now agree on the basic cause of the pay gap. There’s a gender bias to life choices which is what produces the gender bias in life outcomes.
No, that is an advance.
The next question though is the important one. Given that we all do agree – women choose, on average, differently than men – well, why in buggery are we trying to do anything about it?