Alf was urged by Mrs Grumble to tread vey warily today, as he mused further on the question of the differences between men and women and how it affects their pay.
Above all, she advised, don’t mention the “m” word.
He won’t because he can’t spell it.
It seems that while Alf was hard at work doing parliamentary things yesterday, Mrs Grumble was watching the telly.
And she saw the hapless Alasdair Thompson clash with a female journalist
… in a fiery stand-off on television last night over his claim that menstruation affected women’s productivity.
Alasdair is a bloke of similar vintage to Alf, give or take 10 years, and therefore he was educated and socialised at a time when you could call your dog Nigger without being shunned as a racist and Mum’s place was at home, bringing up the kids.
Things have changed, but Alasdair perhaps hasn’t learned the gentle art of keeping your trap shut when you may land yourself in big trouble if you say what you actually think.
Tell the mob what’s on your mind, and significant numbers will take serious offence, and soon there will be a baying for blood.
That’s what happened with Alasdair yesterday.
And later in the night, his job appeared to be in jeopardy after a board member of his Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern) said it would be meeting to discuss his future with the body.
Mr Thompson, the association’s chief executive, had said on radio that he advocated equal pay for equal productivity, and women should be paid according to their productivity.
Alf does not have to haul out the dictionary to bring the “m” word into play.
He simply observes that men and women are different. Full stop.
This being so we should not be surprised if pay rates differ despite the massive industry built up in recent decades to make the case for equality and the closing of the gender gap.
If there was no difference, there would be no need for work done at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and therefore the outfit could be dismantled. Hurrah.
And what do they study (among other things)?
Gender Analysis, which
… examines the differences in men’s and women’s lives, including those that lead to social and economic inequity, and applies this understanding to policy development and service delivery.
The Ministry of Women’s Affairs, which is charged with achieving positive change for women, therefore has developed a Gender Analysis framework, which is particularly focused on achieving positive change for women.
Obviously some bright spark has worked out that policies and programmes affect women and men, girls and boys differently.
And these gender analysts aim to identify and understand the differences in the lives of women and men, and among different groups of women, and to compare why and how these differences occur.
Alf wonders if the earnest buggers at the ministry have latched on to the work of Dr Catherine Hakim, at the London School of Economics.
She also found the notion of women doing a ‘double shift’ of work and domestic duties is a myth.
Men and women – it turns out – already do the same number of hours of productive work, on average.
In fact, if we consider the hours spent doing both paid work and unpaid household, care and voluntary work together, men already do more than their fair share, argues LSE sociologist Catherine Hakim in a special issue of Renewal: a journal of social democracy.
Until recently, unpaid work such as childcare and domestic work has been hard to quantify and so mostly ignored by social scientists and policy makers. The development of Time Use Surveys across the European Union, however, has provided data on exactly how much time we spend carrying out both paid and unpaid productive activities. The findings show that on average women and men across Europe do the same total number of productive work hours once paid jobs and unpaid household duties are added together – roughly eight hours a day.
Hakim said we now have a much more specific and accurate portrait of how families and individuals divide their “work” and this data overturns the well-entrenched theory that women work disproportional long hours in jobs and at home in juggling family and work.
While men carry out substantially more hours of paid work, women will often choose to scale down their hours of paid employment to make time for household work when starting a family. In Britain, men are shown to actually work longer hours on average than women, as many will work overtime to boost family income when the children are at home while wives switch to part-time jobs or drop out of employment altogether.
Couples with no children at home and with both in full-time jobs emerge as the only group where women work more hours in total than men, once paid and unpaid work hours are added up.
The article Alf consulted on this argues that in societies where genuine choices are open to women, the key driver to how work is divided comes down to lifestyle preference, not gender.
Must bring it to the attention of the gender analysis mob at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.
Alasdair might be interested, too, if he still has a job.