« Polly on Housing | Main | Dangers of the Smoking Ban »

July 24, 2007

That Last Equal Opportunities Commission Report

And aren't we all indeed thankful that it is the last. These people don't seem to be able to think.

Women who work full-time earn, on average, 17% less per hour than men working full-time. For women who work part-time, the gap in pay relative to full-time men is a huge 38% per hour.

True. In the talking points:

The average woman working full time is still paid 17% less.
For part-time workers the pay gap is 38% less per hour.

Untrue. You can see how poor journalists get confused, can't you, when the EOC themselves perpetuate such nonsense.

Female part time workers get paid 38% less per hour than full time male workers. Not, as that second implies, 38% less than male part time workers. It's a deliberate distortion to make the problem look larger than it is. When I first saw these numbers, way back when, I phoned the EOC to find out what they were doing. I was told that "comparing male part time wages with female part time wages was not comparing like with like". Liars.

The causes of the pay gap are complex – in part to do with discrimination; in part because women are more likely than men to work in low paid sectors; and in part because women often have to ‘trade down’ or face other work and pay penalties once they become mothers.

Quite. That latter being the major cause.

The average woman working full-time could lose out on £330,000 over the course of her working life. These aren’t figures from the 1970s before equal pay laws came into force – they’re current and show the shocking income gap that persists between men and women. The problem affects us throughout our lives because lower pay means that women face a pensions gap too – their retirement income is 40% less than men’s.

Cretinous stupidity. Of course those women currently getting a pension are showing the effects of the 1970s, before equal pay laws came into force. They're friggin' pensioners for the Lord's sake: they started their working lives 40 and more years ago!

Until we close these glaring income gaps and fundamentally change Britain’s workplaces, our choices will remain limited.

JC on a bike: the income gap is because of the choices that people make: to have children, to care for them, the jobs that are chosen, the flexible hours and so on. It's precisely because people have choices that there is a gap!

Some desires:

Having children does not mean economic inequality for women

What? That choices don't have consequences? That in the choice between whether to perpetuate your own genes or not there should be no costs?

Women are found in as wide a range of jobs as men and no jobs are overwhelmingly done just by women or just by men

Why? If there is something innate in a job that suits one sex or another, why shouldn't it predominantly be done by that sex? Perhaps digging ditches is something innately suited to the male physique. Perhaps computer coding is innately suited to the systemizing abilities of the male type brain? Perhaps nursing is best suited to the empathic qualities of the female?

(Worth pointing out here that this not a reference to sex per se. The idea is from Simon Baron Cohen (yes, he of the autism research), that there is a continuum of brain types, from intensely systemizing to empathic. He labels these "male" and "female". It is not true that all men are male brained, nor that all women are female: it's a probability, no more. 17% of each sex have the other and more women than men have the "balanced" type in the middle. But the important point is that we should not be looking for equal numbers of each sex in a particular occupation. Rather, we should be ensuring that all of those suitably equipped for a specific profession, whatever their sex, have the opportunity to practise that profession.)

More than 8 out of 10 of us believe it’s hard for parents and carers to balance work and family life.

At least here things are getting ever better. The century long decline in working hours continues apace: we all have ever more time to devote to our families, if that is indeed what we wish to do.

Something else they want to see:

That gender-based violence is no longer considered acceptable

Anybody currently think it is? Anyone? Bueller?

an increase in the proportion of reported rapes that are successfully prosecuted

What? You mean that if there isn't enough evidence, a few more people should still be locked up in order to show our committment to gender equality?

In today’s workplace requesting flexible working can still spell career death for many women. Instead they often have to ‘trade down’ when they take on caring roles and then lose out on the top jobs.

True. It's that pesky choice thing again, isn't it?

Anyway, there it is, the last report from the EOC. Thank the Lord for that and good riddance to bad rubbish.

July 24, 2007 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference That Last Equal Opportunities Commission Report:


Hmmm. I take your point, Tim, but I can't help thinking that you're being a big naive.

If we live in a culture where it is predominantly expected of women to quit their jobs to take care of the kids, then that's a restriction on choice, by pushing people down paths that they perhaps otherwise wouldn't have chosen. You'll note that it (currently) takes two people, one of each gender, to propagate genes.

Secondly, I think that there are a lot of people who think that "gender-based violence" (read: rape, pushing one's self onto women, groping them in nightclubs, shouting obscenities at them, etc) is fine to varying degrees, and most of these people are men. Particularly when drunk.

Posted by: sanbikinoraion | Jul 24, 2007 1:21:51 PM

I once did media research for this lot, God, it was a depressing job. Everything was a self-serving whine, contentious argument presented as fact, any viewpoint other than the 'correct' one subjected to self-righteous dismissal.

But don't expect any better from its successor; just more of the same in spades, if you'll forgive the pun now that one oversees gender, race and disability.

Posted by: geoffh | Jul 24, 2007 4:18:29 PM

"If we live in a culture where it is predominantly expected of women to quit their jobs to take care of the kids, then that's a restriction on choice"

What do you mean "we" paleface? There's no expectation on me by my friends and family. If anyone is going to restrict choice, it's New Labour with their trademark unintended-consequences legislation.

"Secondly, I think that there are a lot of people who think that "gender-based violence" is fine to varying degrees."

My old English teacher used to viciously wield the red pen whenever she read the phrase "many people". She taught us that it's one of those giveaway phrases that hides the phrase "in my completely unsubstantiated opinion...".

The phrase "there are a lot of people who" got the red pen treatment with extra demerits because at least "many people" is fewer words.

Posted by: Kay Tie | Jul 24, 2007 7:22:01 PM

it is predominantly expected of women to quit their jobs to take care of the kids, then that's a restriction on choice

How do you equate an expectation to a restriction?

Is it not at least possible that the proportion of women who quit to look after kids, is approximately the same as the proportion who want to quit more than their male partner? Is this question worth asking or do you start from the assumption that any unequal outcome is de facto evidence of women being forced without any further enquiry being necessary?

Posted by: TDK | Jul 25, 2007 6:06:26 PM

So what's the overall message from the final report? That people should be free to make lifestyle choices, but should not be responsible for the outcomes of those choices if they don’t like them?

There's nothing exactly surprising there, professional apologists (or whatever euphemism is preferred) exist solely to establish excuses why we can’t expect people to take responsibility for themselves if they don’t want to.

Posted by: MJW | Jul 31, 2007 1:11:40 PM

And the many women who do not have and never have had family caring responsibilities? Who still get paid less than men doing the same job? And have actually got far more years' experience at that level, because they are not promoted as fast as the men?

The "mothers should quite obviously take a big financial hit" argument is dubious in itself, and appalling when it is used to mask discrimination against other women.

Tim adds: That's an assertion that you need to prove. One that you'll have real problems doing. Never married childless women earn "more" than men.

Posted by: OK | Aug 5, 2007 5:53:17 PM