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Radio 4 Woman’s Hour – it just cannot let facts override a narrative of victimhood: Part 1 the gender pay gap

Tom Winnifrith
Saturday 22 October 2022

To torture me, the Mrs. leaves the radio tuned to Radio 4 in the room in which I work and I am too busy scribbling to turn it off and then the clock strikes 10 and it is Woman’s Hour and it is just so unimaginably awful and misleading that I sit there gripped. Among the joys this week was a section on how girlfriends are more likely to be staying at home while boyfriends worked than vice versa, the “trapped girlfriend phenomena.”

Natch the main “expert” put this down to the gender pay gap which, she insisted, is still at 15% and the presenter did not challenge this.  But this is- as the presenter should know – utterly bogus. The mean average pay gap five years ago was 15% But mean averages are skewed by a very small number of higher earners who tend to be men: soccer players, FTSE 100 CEOs, etc.  The mode average is much fairer and more representative and is c9%. But there is another catch. And it is an enormous one.

Of course, I explained all of this in the most excellent lecture I gave a few years ago at Bath Spa which got me no platformed and the Mrs – outrageously – into trouble. I really need to tell that Orwellian story one day. But you can watch the lecture HERE.

The key point is that one tends to earn far more when older than when you are younger as you advance up the career ladder.  And there are more male workers in their 40s and 50s than birds whereas among 20 and 30 somethings workplace representation tends to be far more balanced.

This is in part down to women opting to leave the work-place after having babies. When I go to parent and toddler groups in this village I am the only male parent there. I bet you the GP and the management consultant in the group earn more than their husbands’ but they opted to take maternity leave and a bit of a career break.  Throughout the animal kingdom mothers are primary carers. I am a freak!

And it is also down to the way society operated 30 -40 years ago. When I started in the City 85% of graduate trainees were male, so were 80% odd of the trainee lawyers, accountants etc. So, as my generation reaches its 50s and 60s is it any wonder that there are more blokes in senior positions than birds? These days graduate intake is 50/50 and at some really “progressive” firms more women are hired. So as the grads of 2022 (or indeed of 2012 or even 2002) move up the workplace ladder the gender pay gap will narrow ever more. It does not need legislation or affirmative action it is just happening. The same is happening in many other areas including academia. The same process is inexorably closing the ethnic pay gap too.

And that leads us to the killer point. Among twenty somethings there is no discernible gender pay gap. Indeed, in some years, birds have earned marginally more than blokes! So, if girlfriends without babies are staying at home while their b/fs go to work then there is probably a reason but it is certainly not a gender pay gap. It may even be worth researching what the actual reason is but the State funded broadcaster and others just shut down debate. It must be that 15% gender pay gap!

But admitting that there is no gender pay gap in the age group where there are stay at home g/fs  on Woman’s Hour goes against the set narrative, one that ignores data but is just a given. Thus week in week out the gender pay gap, a gap based on utterly false data, is wheeled out as something that must be tackled and is the root cause of so many evils.

Can you imagine what would happen to the career of someone at the BBC who dared to point out that Woman’s Hour, a sacred cow at Broadcasting House, was just making things up?

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
[email protected]
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