YESTERDAY I wrote in TCW about the Conservative Government’s publication of a patronising document entitled ‘Gender equality at all stages: A roadmap for change’ which is ‘intended to define and guide how we tackle the barriers women face as they journey through life’.

The same day the Government Equalities Office disgorged another report. Title: ‘Gender Equality Monitor‘. Subheading: ‘Tracking progress on gender equality’. Ambition: Gender equality in the UK.

Note that the ambition is not moral equality nor equality before the law. It is the elimination of statistical differences between men and women across almost any measurable category. Who voted for this and why are we pursuing it?

It is particularly galling coming from a Conservative Government which should believe in freedom. I accept a role for government to promote equality of opportunity. But why is a Conservative Government bent on equality of outcome? There is plenty of research that shows gender differences in career and wider life choices tend to be larger in more gender‐egalitarian and wealthier societies. In other words, the more freedom, opportunity, and economic well-being women have, the more they tend to do things differently from men. If a Government is bent on preventing this, it means in effect that it wants to constrain and limit our choices.

Let’s look at some of the detail in the ‘Gender Equality Monitor’.

The pure ‘gender pay gap’ (average earnings per hour in work) has narrowed for full-time work. But women tend to do more part-time work and actually, on average, earn more than men per hour in doing so. But this positive gap for women has decreased. Nevertheless the report presents this as a positive thing. Eliminating statistical differences is more important than the economic well-being of women in part-time work.

Looking at participation rates, the report says: ‘The gap between men and women working part-time has fallen significantly since 1992, but progress has been slow in more recent years. Women were still three times more likely to work part-time than men in April to June 2018, with 41.2 per cent of women working part-time compared with 13.2 per cent of men.’ Can anyone remember when we might have thought it a wonderful thing to do less work? Perhaps some lucky women have a hardworking partner toiling away, while they enjoy the privilege of being at home with the kids for a few years. Not just raising the kids, but not having to leave the house so early each day and work so damn hard. How incredibly fortunate they are, in historical terms, when most of humanity has toiled continuously from shortly after the cradle to practically in the grave.

Regarding the industries we choose to work in: ‘Improving gender diversity across occupations and industries is about giving people choice that is not constrained by their gender.’ But no effort is made to prove that it is currently ‘constrained by gender’. ‘Women are more likely to work in occupational groups with high proportions of female coworkers, and these jobs tend to be less well paid.’ Is it possible that women enjoy working alongside one another? ‘While women dominate the education sector, they tend to work in lower paying phases and are underrepresented in leadership roles’. Does anyone think that might be because lots of women take time out to raise children?

Here is some supposedly good news: ‘However, women with dependent children aged three to four have seen the largest increase in employment over the last 20 years, mostly driven by full-time employment.’ Does anyone else feel a little bit sad about this? All those kids bundled off to nurseries and daycare? All the mental health problems we are seeing emerge in our tween and teenage kids? Anyone the smallest bit interested in exploring possible links? Out of bounds? Didn’t get the memo.

There is a graph showing that women spend 2.4 hours a week doing laundry. Men spend 0.39 hours. You go, men – that’s brilliant! I hate ironing too. But the Government wants you to do more.

Here are two more gems.

‘In 2017/18, female students represented 67 per cent of [higher education] first year enrolments in science subjects, compared with 58 per cent of enrolments overall. However, within this group female students made up 79 per cent of subjects allied to medicine but only 45 per cent of physical sciences.’ Hang on a second:

More women than men enrolled in higher education?

Many more women than men enrolled in science subjects?

Many more women chose medicine?

This isn’t about choice. This isn’t about freedom. This crowd aren’t happy even if women do better than men. All they want is statistical uniformity. Why? What a dismal, dull, dreary vision devoid of humour, spark, and life.

And finally, you know how women live longer than men? ‘The majority of these extra years of life among females were spent in poorer health’. Men – you’re better off dead.

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