Yetis, unicorns and the gender pay gap

Last week I was delighted to find, published in the Guardian of all places, a commentary stating that as of November 9th, we women are effectively working for free until the New Year. In order to illustrate the point the article was accompanied by a great vintage photo of the Dagenham strikers. But the 1960s are over, and so are beehives, mod dresses, and the gender pay gap.

The article then goes on to waffle about how it will take 54 years for woman to be economically equal to men. “54 years? That’s a long time” you may be thinking. Well yes, it is, if it were true. But it’s not. The truth is that men and women are paid the same for doing the same job – it’s just that men and women don’t actually do the same jobs.

I can use the hotel in which I once worked for as an example of wider society. In this hotel there were 14 chamber maids of which only two were men. However, the not-so-fairer sex dominated the maintenance jobs which are paid slightly better. Is this sexist? No. It’s basic science. Men are more capable of heavy lifting, whereas woman are generally better with aesthetics. And though there will always be exceptions to each of those, it holds true generally – both as a product of nature and culture.

And as for the difference in pay here, it just so happens fixing the plumbing is more economically valuable than making sure the bed spread is straight. Heat and running water trumps plumped up cushions.

So it doesn’t make much sense to ‘mind the gap’. The gap exists because of the choices people make, rather than ingrained sexism.

A 2008 report by the IEA revealed that unmarried woman earn just the same, if not more, as unmarried men. I’m sure that’s not a statistic Emmeline Pankhurst would be too upset to see.

Married women earn less than married men on average, this is true, but this is easy to explain.  Married couples are much more likely to be raising children and despite what you see on Jeremy Kyle, maternal instinct does still exist. Woman are inclined to stay at home and look after the children, or to take part-time work that fits around school. And it isn’t for others to tell mothers and families how they should raise their kids – the choices of women should be respected.

These simple statistics are further underlined by the fact that women actually earn more than men, on average, until the age of 39. As soon as family life begins, then this non-important disparity begins.

In an attempt to remedy the so called gender pay gap and sexism, Canada’s new Prime Minister has made his cabinet ‘gender-balanced’ by choosing women for 50% of the ministerial positions. When asked why, Troudeau simply replied ‘Because it’s 2015’. Quite how what year it is impacts on the value of merit is beyond me. This is almost as anger-fuelling as Norway’s ‘formal quotas for female representation’ which forces businesses to employ women over men.

With regards to both of these, I would prefer to be hired on merit for my hard work and commitment, not because of my reproductive system. The fact that most self-proclaimed feminists agree with these quotas in order to close their imaginary gender pay gap astonishes me.

With the myth exposed it becomes clear that what gender pay gap campaigners are actually asking for is equal pay for unequal work and over an unequal period of time. What complete nonsense.


Eva Henderson is a second year Law and English Literature student at Bangor University, Yorkshire lass, and proud former chambermaid.

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