« Better Regulation Commission | Main | Portugal Notes »

February 05, 2007

Equal Pay

We've got the usual selection of idiocy and lies in this discussion of equal pay.

Contract clauses banning employees from revealing their salaries to colleagues could be outlawed by the next Conservative government in an effort to help close the pay gap between men and women.

Current Tory Party missing the point, yes.

The Tories are risking a dispute with some of its staunchest supporters in business by floating the idea, but the leadership is keen to signal its concern about the 17.1% gender pay divide.

That number's about right: but it is across all age cohorts. I don't think anyone doubts that 30, 40 years ago there was direct discrimination. The question is, is there now, in the younger one? Have we already done all we need to to get rid of discrimination? Given that the gender pay gap amongst the under 30s is miniscule, perhaps we have?

The 17.1% pay gap - more than double at 38.4% for part-time workers - is usually blamed on women with fewer qualifications traditionally taking jobs which pay lower than men with the same qualifications.

That number for the part time pay gap is simply a lie. 28% in the public sector and 10.9% in the private.

This research suggests that women with degrees are also getting a raw deal. In 1995 71.1% of all jobs were held by graduates compared with 53.5% now. But women have lost more ground in the top categories with 45% of women now in the top earning category compared with 64.9% 10 years ago.

That's simply stupidity: there's never been a time when 71% of the population were graduates, let alone 71% of the workforce.

The EOC's report, Poor Returns: Winners and Losers in the Job Market, shows the proportion of women graduates who are in the lowest-level jobs has increased from 5.4% to 13.2% since 1995.

As is standard with the EOC's modus operandi that little number is released into the wild before the full report: it can take on a life of its own before people can have a look at the supporting evidence. What's the number of male graduates in low paid jobs? Has it increased over the same time period?
Anecdotally, I would say yes: wasn't there a study that showed that an Arts degree no longer provided a wage premium?

If the number of both male and female graduates in low paid jobs is rising then we don't have evidence of discrimination, we have evidence that too many people are being encouraged to take inappropriate degree courses.

February 5, 2007 in Your Tax Money at Work | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c2d3e53ef00d8346815f869e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Equal Pay:

» What's wrong with Worstall and women's pay from Murder City Dispatch
Tim Worstall thinks that women don't face discrimination, so the Tory proposal to invalidate the confidentiality of compensation packages is misguided. It's not clear why the proposal so incenses him - as I note, all else being equal, it ought to incr... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 6, 2007 6:36:44 PM

» What's wrong with Worstall and women's pay from Murder City Dispatch
Tim Worstall thinks that women don't face discrimination, so the Tory proposal to invalidate the confidentiality of compensation packages is misguided. [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 6, 2007 6:37:47 PM

Comments

It would make sense for the numbers of graduates entering low paid jobs to be increasing. The number of graduates is rising, the number of graduates in "modern" subjects even faster. The number of graduate jobs is too, but I can believe that it might not be doing so quite so fast.

Posted by: James of England | Feb 5, 2007 10:57:55 AM

That stupid contract term that forbids you from comparing salaries is absolutely nuts. I thought we lived in a democracy with freedom of speech. If so, why am I not at liberty to share any of my own private information (such as my salary) with whomever I please? I once worked for a big publisher where the pay scale was founded on the principle of pay the absolute minimum you can get away with. The discrepancies between people doing identical jobs was ridiculous... far more than any productivity gaps could ever have justified.

Posted by: MarkS | Feb 5, 2007 11:05:23 AM

MarkS,

Freedom of Speech is about the State dictating what you can and cannot say. If you sign a private contract specifying that it shall be a breach if you disclose specific information to specific people then that is the contract you signed. It has nothing to do with freedom of speech. Besides, what we call "Freedom of Speech" should be more properly termed "Freedom of Conscience".

Posted by: Chris Harper | Feb 5, 2007 11:42:46 AM

I would maintain that a contract that limits your right in this way is actually an unfair contract. One's salary is a massively important part of your personal information. Anyway, what's to stop you telling someone outside the company who then tells someone inside the company? Or does this clause prohibit you from sharing the information with anyone? Including a spouse, the Inland Revenue? It's unenforceable and an insult to most people's intelligence. I don't know why some companies persist with this nonsense.

Posted by: MarkS | Feb 5, 2007 11:57:45 AM

Why doesn't some enterprising woman (the kind we're endlessly being told about) set up a business and tempt all these underpaid highly skilled women that other firms are "ripping off"?

Posted by: AntiCitizenOne | Feb 5, 2007 5:07:35 PM

AntiCitizenOne, that would be unlawful gender discrimination. Such laws did for Dame Stephen Philips' business model based on doing exactly that.

Posted by: Marcin Tustin | Feb 5, 2007 6:04:06 PM

Not, I might add because she couldn't get the workers any more, but because she wasn't allowed to restrict recruitment to women.

Posted by: Marcin Tustin | Feb 5, 2007 6:07:25 PM

The number of graduates is rising, the number of graduates in "modern" subjects even faster. The number of graduate jobs is too, but I can believe that it might not be doing so quite so fast.

I wrote an article about that for the TCS last year (rejected, alas). Rising GCSE and A level grades are making it far too easy to get into university, and the result is an over-qualified population in a nation that still needs the bins emptied on a weekly basis.

By all rights there was no call for me to go to uni. The degree course I chose had nothing to do with any job I envisioned finding after graduation - myself and many others like me went simply because we had the grades to go.

The result? Three years later we landed in a job market in which our non-degree endowed contemporaries had a three year head start in the world of employment and we were left holding nothing more than a rolled up piece of paper in one hand and a lot of too high expectations in another.

It isn't the employment market failing graduates - it's the universities out to grab as much tuition fee cash as they can get their grubby little academic hands on.

Posted by: sortapundit | Feb 5, 2007 6:15:23 PM

"minuscule" not "miniscule"

Posted by: Mark Wadsworth | Feb 6, 2007 11:32:58 AM