There is a gender earnings gap in British – as with all others – society. The interesting question is what is causing it, the important one what we do about it. The answers being, in turn, children and nothing.
This is not, you will note, the general direction of the political conversation. It does have the merit of being true on both counts.
Take this finding that there are lots more highly paid men out there:
There are almost four times more men than women in Britain’s highest-paid posts, according to “scandalous” figures that show the extent of the glass ceiling blocking women from top jobs.
Government data reveals the huge disparity in the number of men and women with a six-figure income, fuelling concerns over the gender pay gap in the City and other professions.
There were 681,000 men earning £100,000 or more in 2015-16, according to new HMRC data. It compares with only 179,000 women. The latest figures show that 17,000 men earned £1m in 2015-16, while only 2,000 women did so.
Those numbers are true. There are more men earning higher incomes than there are women. This is the entire and whole driver of that gender pay gap – or what it actually is, a gender earnings gap. And what is the cause of this? As the TUC has pointed out:
There is an overall gender pay gap of 34 per cent for this cohort of full-time
workers who were born in 1970. This gap is largely due to the impact of
parenthood on earnings – the women earning less and the men earning more
after having children.
That really is just about all there is to it. It’s illegal, and has been for decades, to pay people differently based solely upon their gender. People doing the same job get the same pay by gender – there’re fortunes to be made dobbing in employers where this isn’t the case and we don’t see such dobbing in happening.
Our truth being that, on average and across the population this is not about the actions of any individual, men and women tend to react differently to the arrival of the darlin’ snotdribblers. We’re a sexually dimorphic species which has discovered that division of labour secret. As it happens we tend to divide the labour a little differently over the results of sex.
Men tend – tend note, tend – to go out and do a little more hunting in the marketplace to provide for their children when they arrive, women to do a bit more of that gathering closer to home. And?
Well, and this:
Following the release of the figures, Greening said: “These stark figures show how far our country still has to go on closing our gender pay gap. It represents not only a loss of career earnings for women, it also represents a loss of talent for employers.
“What counts now is companies taking action to close this gap. That means making flexible working laws actually work on the ground, enabling women to get on with their careers after, as well as before, starting a family, and it means more girls aiming for the high-paying careers in areas like engineering that have been male-dominated.”
No, that’s wibble, but then it’s also Greening so who expected anything else?
Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality party, said: “These figures show inequality runs through every level of the economy. It is scandalous that women still make up barely a fifth of top earners, and this discrepancy is not confined to those in well-paid jobs.
“Gender inequality is a feature, not a coincidence or side-effect, of our economic, political and social system. The foundation of that model is the unpaid childcare and social care work that is predominately done by women – and which is not recognised in official economic data or factored into political calculations. That has obvious knock-on effects on women’s earnings and their chances of climbing to the top of the career ladder.”
That has the merit of being entirely correct and true. Women do more of the caring for the brats, men less. And until and unless that changes then there will be an inequality in the part of life which is not about wiping bottoms. At which point again, our important question, and?
For this is just how humans turn out and why would we want to change that? What could we do to change that more importantly? Well, we could offer lots of choice and lots of choice is a good thing in and of itself, it’s an increase in freedom and liberty. But when we, for example, offer paternity leave we find not many men desiring to take it. Men can – and some do of course – become primary child carer. The point being that not many do.
The answer therefore becomes what it always should be anyway. Sure, let’s set up society so that all have that maximal freedom and liberty the universe allows. Something that this capitalist free marketry has done rather well with over the centuries. Then we simply stand back and che sera, che sera. For the aim and purpose here is not to make all people equal in outcome, it’s to offer equality of opportunity and see how much of whatever it is that humans, living their lives, actually want. And if it’s not all that much, or doesn’t accord with current theory then so be it.
We can also point out that the true answer here is entirely in womens’ hands. Granny knew how to manage G-Pops, Lysistrata shows the Ancient Greeks got the point. If the only way men got nookie and or children was by being house husbands then there wouldn’t be a gender earnings gap, or it would run the other way. That women don’t strike for this – perhaps that not enough do – shows that this might well not be what women actually want.
OK, maybe not in womens’ hands but certainly in their control….