Lots of shrieking and wailing has been heard in recent days, and desperate lefties have dragged the long-departed Kate Sheppard into an equal-pay furore in a bizarre attempt to shame the government.
Words like “tragedy” have been thrown into the furore, too, although – so far as Alf knows – no-one had been killed.
Actually, nothing has happened except the Government decided to abolish the Department of Labour’s Pay and Employment Equity Unit (at least one report abbreviated it to PEE, much to Alf’s delight).
Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly howled that the decision to shut down PEE shows “an absolute disregard for the thousands of women workers in this country whose work is undervalued simply because they are women.”
“Women in New Zealand are paid on average at least 12 per cent less than men doing the same jobs. In the public sector the gap is as much as 35 per cent. The Government has agreed, for example, that female social workers in Child, Youth and Family, are paid 9.5 percent less than male employees doing work of the same level.
“They have already seen the investigation into this discrimination halted, been told that they cannot have fair pay because it would cost too much, and now the unit charged with monitoring and guiding pay equity in the public sector has been axed.”
The Service and Food Workers Union’s Northern Regional Secretary, one Jill Ovens, said the disbanding of the unit was “a tragedy” and “another step in the National led government revealing its true colours.”
“New Zealand once led the world in its attitude to suffrage and women’s rights. We celebrate this with the image of suffrage leader Kate Shepard on the $10 bill. Now that image has been torn up by this government.”
TEU women’s vice president Sandra Grey was extremely unhappy (presumably with the decision to shut PEE, although she might be a melancholic woman at the best of times).
“Currently there are 15 polytechnics and institutes of technology, 1 university and one wānanga all engaged in pay and employment equity reviews through the PaEE unit, many of them very near completion. Every review that has been done so far in the public sector has shown women being paid less than men for doing the same work. We anticipate that will be the case in the 17 tertiary education reviews too.”
Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty said the axing of the unit was another example of National’s lack of commitment to human rights and equity issues.
“This small and highly-effective unit was working for gender pay-equity in the public sector. They were axed for political reasons because the Government doesn’t value pay-equity and has no intention to close the pay gap for women and lead from the front,” said Ms Delahunty.
And so it went on.
Trouble is, the notion that women are getting a raw deal is based on the dubious premise that the gender pay gap proves women are the victims of systematic discrimination in the workplace.
But this is simply untrue. Granted that there are indeed specific instances of discrimination against women, the generalised claim is false because it ignores the differences in behaviour between women and men at work.
As academics such as Professor Catherine Hakim of the London School of Economics have long argued, such iconic feminist causes as the ‘glass ceiling’ and the ‘gender pay gap’ are in very large measure the outcome of the choices made by women themselves.
Of course there are exceptions, but in general women have very different expectations from men about work.
That’s because many women have another set of competing priorities – child rearing. As a result, they tend to want to work part-time. Even those who work full-time tend not to put in the same hours of overtime and so forth that men do because they are less interested in getting to the top of their profession — mainly because unlike men they don’t usually define themselves through work and have less interest in power and status and all those guy things.
All these factors mean that even if they are doing the same jobs as men they are not doing it in the same way. So why should they expect to be paid the same?
Those observations – dare Alf say tart observations? – came from columnist Melanie Phillips, in The Spectator, about a year ago when British Equality Minister Harriet Harman raised a gender storm by disclosing plans for firms to be forced to publish details of how much men and women are paid.
Companies were to be encouraged to positively discriminate in favour of women job candidates, too, among proposals designed to promote more women to senior roles and to close the gender pay gap.
Phillips scoffed that women were not exactly going to the barricades over this issue.
It’s only Harriet Harperson and the sisterhood who are agitating about this because it’s all part of their anti-man agenda. It’s an economic variation on what they did to rape law, whereby they forced through changes which loaded the legal dice against male defendants in rape cases because the conviction rate in such cases was said to be ‘too low’.
Alf hasn’t kept up with the play in Britain and does not know if men stood up to the gender bullying as Phillips advised.
He does know the closing of PEE will be no great loss.