It’s not even a week into 2017, and our old, shouty friend the gender pay gap has already elbowed its way back into the news agenda.
This time, a study by the Resolution Foundation shows the pay gap for Millennials – those born between 1981 and 2000 – now stands at 5%.
On the surface, this is excellent news, for it represents a record low, and a significant reduction in the 9% wage difference faced by women born from 1966 to 1980.
But the pay gap decreasing isn’t a sexy news story these days.
No; irrespective of the data, it must be painted as a Fresh Feminist Apocalypse. But how?
Says Laura Gardiner, Senior Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, “Young women today face relatively little disadvantage. But while many millennial women haven’t experienced much of a pay gap yet, most probably will once they reach their 30s, when they start having children”.
Ah, there isn’t really a gender pay gap now – but there might be down the line when you bear sprogs!
And for once, here we have some reasoned truth in this most emotional of debates.
For as anybody with a logical brain can fathom, there is practically no gender pay gap – women being paid less for like-for-like work, which has been illegal in the UK since 1970 – but, rather, a motherhood pay gap.
Or, to put it bluntly, “if you take a large chunk of time off work, you get paid less, and your career prospects can suffer, especially if you choose to go back to work part time, or your boss and/or colleagues are sexist/ruthless gits and sideline you” (most of which happened to my missus).
The gender pay gap theory has been debunked so many times, it beggars belief we need to play the same old broken record.
Naturally, as a man, I couldn’t possibly comment without appearing a misogynist, so in the interests of equality, let’s leave the serious debunking to the girls.
The gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure or hours worked per week. When such relevant factors are considered, the wage gap narrows to the point of vanishing.
Sky News’s Sophie Ridge elaborates further, adding: “The single biggest reason that women are chronically paid less than men isn’t ‘the patriarchy’, sexist bosses, or even that pesky, invisible glass ceiling. It’s childbirth”.
To upset the apple cart even more, the Guardian – yes, even they! – ran a piece last year headlined “Women in their 20s earn more than men of same age” pointing to a £1,111 annual women’s premium.
And as 90,000 more British women than men applied for university courses last year, putting them on a path to higher lifetime earnings, this discrepancy can only increase.
The final, inconvenient truth that the patriarchal oppression theory is hokum?
Lesbian couples (the overriding majority of whom choose to remain childless) out-earn women in heterosexual relationships by a 6% premium.
Remove children, and the gender pay gap is actually reversed. Well, that wasn’t in the script, was it?
So how do we end the motherhood pay gap? In theory, it’s simple: by reducing childcare costs and encouraging dads to be primary child carers.
Or, in a word, “Sweden”.
British men are often derided for their pitiful 1% take-up of Shared Parental Leave. But as it pays a mere £139/week (compared to often far more favourable maternity packages for mums) is there any wonder?
Last summer I spent an enlightening week in Stockholm with a bunch of “latte papas”, Sweden’s inspirational and growing army of stay-at-home dads.
In Sweden, 90% of dads take SPL, and the average time off is nine months. But why?
Dads are paid 80% of their salary for one year, or around £3,000/month. As a consequence, men have bought into gender equality, because they were bribed into caring by the state.
Sadly, there’s a catch. Sweden’s system is so expensive it takes a 52% base tax rate to pay for it.
It would be a cold day in Hell before any British political party would suggest riot-inducing tax hikes like that. The childless would never swallow it – perhaps even the lesbians.
So, in the meantime, MPs, campaigners, liberal journalists and academics endlessly bleat about the gender pay gap, as it makes them look virtuous, while achieving precisely nothing.
No matter how much contrary science you may present, the gender pay gap will always be sacrosanct to its believers. It’s as if their entire world will fall apart if they admit the truth.
It makes you wonder: are today’s gender pay gap advocates akin to the Flat-Earthers of yore, or Scientologists of today?
Which is why, as sure as the Earth is an oblate spheroid, this won’t be the last time we have this debate in 2017, nor any other year, any time soon. See you on Equal Pay Day for more of the same?