The myth: Women get paid less than men for the same work due to discrimination.
The term ‘gender pay gap’ is widely used as ‘proof that society benefits men at the expense of women’. When used it is usually not defined and gives the impression that women are paid less than men for the same job. As the definition below states – this is untrue.
Definition of Gender Pay Gap
According to the UK government, the Gender Pay Gap is the difference in the average earnings of male and female employees either in a particular organisation, or the average for the whole country.
In 2020 the gap in the UK is around 17%.
What the GPG is NOT:
It’s official: “The gender pay gap does not show differences in pay for comparable jobs. Unequal pay for men and women has been illegal for 45 years.” https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-gender-pay-gap
What the gender pay gap does not account for:
- overtime rates
We can see a gender pay gap in an airline. This is because the highly-paid engineers and pilots are mostly male while the cabin and check-in staff are mostly female. These are choices, not discrimination.
Reasons for the gap
The GPG is NOT caused by unequal wages. As the government website correctly shows, “The causes of the gender pay gap are complex and overlapping:
- A higher proportion of women choose occupations that offer less financial reward (e.g. administration). Many high paying sectors are disproportionately made up of male workers (e.g. information and communications technology).
- A much higher proportion of women work part-time, and part-time workers earn less than their full-time counterparts on average.
- Women are still less likely to progress up the career ladder into high paying senior roles.”
Video by The Economist
This video, by a mainstream magazine, explains the reasons for the gap. Although it, correctly, identifies ‘having children’ as a major reason for lower average wages for women, it still describes this as women being ‘held back’, rather than giving motherhood an equal status with a career and simply accepting the financial outcomes.
Video by Christina Hoff Sommers
In this video in the ‘Factual feminist’ series, challenges the assumption that the gap is the result of discrimination.
It’s a ‘not making my career my first priority’ pay gap
While, on average, more women than men choose lifestyle over career, many men also have these priorities. If we were to look at ‘career-minded men’ v ‘lifestyle-minded men’ we would see a similar wage-gap.