Copyright: Public Domain / Used With Permission

We’re obviously in the grip of a mania as silly as that of the Yellow Peril or the Dance for the Millennium before it. That the latter was likely due LSD in the ergot is an explanation, not a good reason to repeat the experience. The gender pay gap, everyone and their grandmother seems to think that it’s a good idea that this be closed. All too few are actually sitting down and thinking about it. If one group of people, on average and across the population, do fewer years of work, or work fewer hours, or choose different jobs, then why shouldn’t they be paid a different amount of money for that work than some other group of the population?

Well? In a market economy we do rather expect wages to reflect that value to the employer of the work done. That in turn dependent upon the supply of and demand for varied skills. Whether the two groups are men and women or those prepared to work 60 hour weeks as dunnikin divers and those not, we’d still expect to see some difference in the rewards of work dependent upon the work being done, no?

Sure, we don’t want to have people doing the same job, putting in the same hours and effort, to the same standard, being paid differently just because they belong to one or another more or less favoured group. That sort of taste discrimination we’d rather do without really. And we also don’t have it in the UK today. People doing the same job do gain the same pay irrespective of gender, melanin content and all the rest. You know, it’s the law, we’ve not got some rash nor flood of cases claiming the law is being broken, a reasonable assumption is that near all are obeying said law.

But there are those who still insist that men and women should be, on average, paid the same. Whatever those differences in jobs done, for how many hours, over how many years. Quite why has never been explained but there they are. Which leads us to things like this:

The practice of many firms of asking job applicants what they currently earn is partly to blame for trapping women on low pay, a charity has said.

The “salary question” means women underpaid in their current job are more likely to be underpaid in the next one, the Young Women’s Trust charity said.

It said including salary details in job adverts instead would help close the gender pay gap between men and women.

There’s that assumption that closing that gender pay gap is simply an unmitigated good that cannot be argued against. Clearly we around here differ. There’s also an interesting implication, that those strong and confident women of today aren’t capable of finding out what the employer is willing to pay and then holding out until they do. Most strong and confident. Oh, and if women aren’t, in general, as good at this negotiation business on their own behalf as men then we have found a difference between men and women which might explain their differential pay, haven’t we?

But think on why an employer might ask about previous pay. To see what the potential employee might desire if they are to become an employee. To discover the price that is. Just as the employee tries to discover the price by asking, well, what’s the pay for the job? This is why they’re called pay negotiations, after all. A little dance done on both sides, what will you offer, what will they accept and so on through the iterations to welcome aboard and bugger off you greedy little tyke.

The point here being that insisting that people don’t ask about the price being a negation of the very point of having a market economy. But then perhaps that’s actually the point, eh?