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The Latest PC BS

Entry 1765, on 2016-01-25 at 14:38:24 (Rating 4, Politics)

A popular topic of discussion recently is the pay-gap between men and women in New Zealand government organisations. Gender pay-gaps have been the source of much angst in the past and it was generally assumed that things were much better now, but no, apparently they aren't. In fact, in many cases the gap is widening.

The gap in the worst organisation was about 40% and even the ministry which generated the report had a gap of about 30%. Only one organisation had a situation where women were paid more on average and that was the Ministry for Women (37% more than men, and by the way, why isn't there a Ministry for Men?). I would like to know what kind of sexist policies they have in operation there!

But overall this seems unfair, doesn't it? Well superficially maybe it does, and many people have immediately jumped on the old politically correct bandwagon and denounced the whole situation as sexist, unfair, and totally unacceptable. And that's the problem: not so much what people are saying but why they are saying it (because they don't know the background but want to appear politically correct).

Interestingly, with notable exceptions, only women have suggested that there might not actually be an unfair bias at work here. The only man I heard who dared to dispute the consensus was summarily dismissed in a vicious ad-hominem attack with little consideration for his actual points (which admittedly could have been better).

So what are the facts? Well, apart from small anomalies, women do get equal pay for equal work. That has been the law here for many years. So anyone still demanding "equal pay for equal work" should probably get over it and stop demanding something we already have, or least define what they mean by "equal work".

So what are the real causes of the unequal pay then? Well, men tend to do more highly paid jobs and they tend to be more senior. Is that the result of an anti-woman bias? In some cases, yes, but in the majority it is not. Research indicates that women tend to fall behind men in seniority when they take time off to have families or choose a better work/life balance.

The research also indicates that women are less demanding when negotiating salaries and advancement in their careers but also that women are less likely to be hired for senior positions even when they have equal qualifications and even when those interviewing them for the position are also women!

So you might say that women themselves are mainly to blame for the situaiton they are in. But that is also unfair because the work environment we have and the value we associate with different jobs might itself be biased towards the work habits of men.

To demonstrate the complexity and subtlety of the situation let me give an anecdote I heard on a podcast specifically about this topic. It involved a senior professor of economics from a respected American university. Just as an aside, she was a woman and was paid more than her husband who was also an economist at the same organisation.

This professor was asked to critique a review done by an organisation where gender bias was suspected. She did this along with two male colleagues. The findings indicated the pay gap was due almost entirely to the two factors I mentioned above: taking time off to raise children, and a choice of working less hours to get a better work/life balance.

But perhaps the most interesting finding of her work was purely coincidental. It was this: after completing the work she found that the two male participants had been paid considerably more than she had. Was this an example of the bias she had been asked to examine? Well yes, but not in the way many people would suspect.

When she was asked to do the work she was offered a certain sum, which she accepted. The two male participants were offered the same amount but insisted they were worth more. So they negotiated a greater pay rate, and one which could presumably have been available to the woman if she had just asked.

So there's nothing simple about this whole phenomenon, except the simple-minded politically correct bullshit I hear from the majority of commentators on the subject. I don't really know if there is a problem, and if there is a problem I don't know what the answer is. All I do know is that I'm sick of dissenting opinions not being taken seriously, and I'm really sick of all the PC BS!


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