Tuesday, November 19, 2019
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Your woke career guide to the gender pay gap

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YOU have probably not heard of a company called Paymentsense. Apparently it is Europe’s largest ‘merchant service provider’. Its products are used by small businesses to process card payments. Wonderful. 

But guess what? Paymentsense has decided to weigh in on the ‘gender pay gap’. You are probably tired of the ‘woke advertising’ with which we are bombarded. The Gillette ‘toxic masculinity’ razor ad is the most notorious example. You might also have hoped that the tide would be turning. After all, Gillette has lost billions, with many claiming the ad is partly responsible. ‘Get woke, go broke’.

Instead, we’re seeing a new trend – woke research. Paymentsense apparently decided to undertake its research because ‘we know a thing or two about money’. Unfortunately it doesn’t know much about good research or sound career advice for women.

Several years ago, the Conservative government made it compulsory for large companies (with more than 250 employees) to publish their ‘gender pay gap’ data. Paymentsense decided to take the publicly available data and break it down by town to show which have the biggest pay gaps. It says: ‘We analysed UK government statistics to uncover which cities are home to the worst offenders and dug even deeper to find the industries and job roles most likely to discriminate.’

‘To discriminate’? Well, it has been illegal in this country for employers to pay men and women different amounts for the same job all of 50 years – since the Equal Pay Act of 1970 (superseded by the Equality Act 2010).

The fact is that much of today’s purported pay gap is down to choice, not to discrimination – women are choosing to have children and spend time with them – as well as to misleading and misrepresentative data analysis. Never mind any of that. Paymentsense regards it as wise – or woke – in effect to accuse whole industries of discrimination. They also choose to present data showing ‘the number of free days worked’ by women. Slavery, you would be forgiven for thinking. Except that the argument and evidence that the assertion is based on is spurious, as Kate Andrews of the Institute of Economic Affairs reported here:

Undeterred, Paymentsense goes on to look at the pay gap between industries. This section, I fear, will come as something of a shock to feminists who, funnily enough, never complain about the absence of women in the heavy lifting, dangerous and dirty industries. For what do you know, these are the very jobs that ‘women who want to have the best chance of avoiding pay discrimination should look towards’. I can’t wait for Woman’s Hour to respond to this and take up this career advice suggestion of going into ‘mining and quarrying’ which has ‘a -6.9 per cent gender gap’ favouring women; or water supply and waste management’ which has, they claim, an amazing ‘-1.6 per cent gender pay gap that favours female workers over men’. Look forward to women bin men. Somehow I can’t see that even on the horizon.

Paymentsense has more helpful career advice: ‘The worst job a woman can have as far as the gender pay gap goes is financial account manager. It comes in at a staggering 49.1 per cent behind the opposite sex,’ it warns.

Get the problem with all this? Never mind aiming for industries with higher overall rates of pay. Avoid the industries with the biggest gap, even if they pay better overall!

By the way, while ‘mining and quarrying’ seems good for women, becoming a ‘mining production manager’ is not good because ‘positions have a 43.6 per cent pay gap favouring male workers’. So go into an industry with a low overall gender pay gap, but don’t aim for a senior job in the sector because that’s where you’ll see a gap opening up.

Has it not occurred to Paymentsense that the pay gap opens up at more senior levels because that is when lots of women take time off to be with children? Hilariously, if you tried to cobble together Paymentsense’s narrative into some form of career advice, it’s actually going to widen the gender pay gap! Just when you might be in line for a senior management role, don’t go for it because in a self-fulfilling prophecy that’s where you’ll find the widest pay gaps!

Actually it’s not bad advice: it’s nice being home with the kids, and if you are avoiding the pay gap, even as you widen it, well, let the Woke brigade work that one out.

Finally, according to Paymentsense there is some icing on the cake. You see, ‘female personal trainers are also highly likely to enjoy a bigger pay packet than men, with a -75.2 per cent space.’ So when your kids are a bit older, instead of getting back into finance or law or mining or quarrying or wherever you came from, find work jogging around the park. Stay in shape, and you’ll be handy for when the kids get home.

But while you might be widening the gender pay gap overall because you haven’t re-entered a higher reward sector, when you jog past a male personal trainer you can feel mightily satisfied.

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Caroline ffiske
Caroline ffiske
Caroline ffiske is a former advisor to the New Zealand Government, served two terms as a Conservative councillor in Hammersmith & Fulham and is currently a full-time mother. She tweets as @carolinefff

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