For International Women’s Day – Math Is Hard Says Barbie

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Some half of companies have managed to close their gender pay gap in this past year. That means that some half have not – the maths of averages thus telling us that there’s not actually been much change.

Of course, to really complete the Lake Wobegon trick we’d need to find that the other half of companies have reported worsening gender pay gaps. Which, while being not far off what we do have isn’t quite and exactly so:

Pay figures show 50% of employers have narrowed gender gap

In more detail:

Of the 1,510 companies who have reported to date for both years, 756 (50%) improved their gender pay gap. A further 5% (72 companies) made no progress on closing the gap, 39% (592 companies) reported a worse gap than last year, and 6% (90 companies) reported a 0% gap for both years.

If we were to go all mansplaining and detail oriented we’d say that’s pretty much no change actually. Some half or so reduced their gender pay gap, two fifths, or to round up near a half, reported an increase in their gender pay gap. My, it’s almost as if there’s some deeper reason more complex than just employers being meanies that causes the gender pay gap.

Which, despite the sneering here, is an interesting lesson for us to learn for International Women’s Day. For there is, of course, a deeper and more complex reason for the gender pay gap. Upon the arrival of children men and women have, on average, different reactions to the world of work. Sure, perhaps it shouldn’t all be so gendered, this child care stuff. But in a mammalian and viviparous species with sexual dimorphism how many people are really surprised by this?

And we even then get to the really interesting question. If this is what people desire, want to do as evidenced by our ability to observe revealed preferences, why would we want to insist that they shouldn’t do this?

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