The harpies get their trophy but who, if anyone, has got the facts about the cause of the gender gap?

Who's next?

The harpies have triumphed.

More dismaying, those of them who would be outraged if a worker was dismissed for what he or she said – no matter how provocative the remarks – are crowing about the sacking of Employers and Manufacturers’ Association (Northern) chief executive Alasdair Thompson.

Their unseemly baying for blood reminds Alf of the hags who cackled their approval as the guillotine blade fell in the days of the French Revolution.

According to Stuff’s sources, a financial settlement was thrashed out between lawyers for Thompson and the board of the EMA in the two weeks since his controversial comments about women’s productivity.

Thompson had been given the opportunity to resign but had not offered to do so, the sources said.

“He didn’t seem to think he should have to.”

Alf can’t see any need for his resignation or sacking either.

What did he say to provoke that extreme measure?

Oh, yes.

He said –

“I believe that in life most women are more productive totally than most men. I absolutely believe that. When you take into account the things that women do in their lives compared to most men. They often do all the arranging of the finances for the whole family, they run the household, they care for the children, they do all manner of things and they go to work. Their total productivity in life, in my opinion, is higher than most men.”

Brian Edwards, in a damned good blog post excoriating dishonest journalism, brought Alf’s attention to that remark in an interview with Mihingarangi Forbes for Campbell Live.

Edwards went on –

How come you didn’t know that? Because that part of the interview wasn’t shown on the programme. In fact only 4’18” of this 27 minute interview was shown.

TV3 is entitled to edit the programme, a fact which Thompson acknowledged and accepted at the start of recording. But what it is not entitled to do is to select a passage which is totally non-representative of the original interview in its entirety. That is precisely what it did.

What else did Thompson say?

During a radio interview he said there was a reason women got paid less than men.

“Because once a month they have sick problems. Not all women, but some do, they have children they have to take time off to go home and take leave,” he said during a radio interview on Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty’s bill seeking to require employers to record the gender of their employees along with pay levels.

This seems to have riled the harpies.

But the Herald reported the other day that Enrico Moretti, an Italian professor of economics living in California, says, actually, women do take more sick days because of their periods.

He and another economics professor, Andrea Ichino analysed personnel data at an Italian bank which recorded the date and duration of every employee absence from work and found the absences of women below the age of 45 followed a 28-day cycle.

The professors concluded the menstrual cycle did increase female absenteeism and this explained at least 14 per cent of the gender pay difference. But they also found the sick days were due to genuine pain – and suggested one way to redress the pay gap was to bring in a gender-specific subsidy for women.

But bugger the findings from academic researchers.

Let’s have a beheading – and more.

CTU president Helen Kelly is saying Thompson’s sacking alone is not enough.

She wanted the EMA to say what it was planning to do to help address the issue of pay equality and to end discriminatory practices against women and is seeking a meeting with the organisation to discuss it further.

“They’ve put in new leadership but they have not put in any positive steps to address these issues,” she said.

Who else wanted blood?

Notwithstanding the aforementioned research findings , Ms Delahunty said Thompson’s dismissal was appropriate given the inaccuracy of his claims about the gender pay gap and his intimidating approach to female journalists.

National Council of Women executive officer Nicky Steel said it was “inevitable” that Thompson would go.

“He was not a credible leader of an organisation representing the country’s major businesses,” she said.

Not credible for saying women are more productive than men?

Or was it something else he got wrong?

Thames-Coromandel mayor Glenn Leach has climbed on the bandwagon, apparently because he served on the council when Thompson was elected as the first mayor of the district in 1989.

Leach said he felt for Thompson who had done a lot for the region.

”I don’t condone where he’s gone, I think he got caught in a position where he didn’t think too much before he said what he said.”

But where had he gone, exactly?

The most sensible reaction came from ACT MP Sir Roger Douglas, who said it was a sad day when people could be hounded from their jobs simply for expressing controversial views.

”In a free society with a robust tradition of vigorous and open debate, it should be possible to raise such matters – and be wrong about them – without being destroyed by lynch mobs.”

It’s a pity the old political war-horse is being put out to pasture soon. He will be missed.

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