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Gender pay gap: Should men take a pay cut?

There’s no guarantee that the saving would be redistributed.

We’re in the midst of a fourth wave of feminist activism and theory. Each successive wave has had a particular focus. The first, embodied in the Suffragette movement and suffragists, resulted in enfranchisement for women and, finally, a more complete form of democracy.

The second wave, peaking in the 1960s and 1970s, is usually characterised as focusing on body and home – the contraceptive pill and the legal structure of marriage both featured strongly. The third wave of the 1980s is a little more mysterious. Most academic commentators suggest it had an internal focus, as feminist activists and theorists suggested celebrating women’s agency and personal choices. Now this fourth wave appears to be affecting the workplace more than anywhere else.


Read more: Hundred years of votes for women: how far we’ve come and how far there’s still to go


There are still plenty of sex- and gender-based inequalities across the world and across industries. Politics, media, the arts, sport, religion – all have been shown up recently for reproducing inequality, exclusive practices, and violence against women (both symbolic and physical). Within this, two clear themes have emerged as central to today’s feminism: sexual assault and pay.

Talking about pay

Legislatively, there’s been one key change in the UK – a requirement for companies to publish overviews of what women are paid compared to men. This is one of MP Harriet Harman’s central achievements in her lifelong pursuit of gender equality. The amendment of the Equality Act she fought for requires organisations employing more than 250 people to report on pay differentials between men and women. It is generating a very un-British transparency on pay, a notoriously sensitive aspect of work.

Some organisations have already published their reports. The airline easyJet reports a very high 51.7% difference – in other words, the average man employed there is paid half as much again as the average woman. Accountancy firm PwC reports a 34.4% and 13.1% pay gap for its two arms, oil company Shell 21.7%. You can check the employers’ reports here.

Most organisations explain this startling difference first off by protesting that a gender pay gap does not mean unequal pay for the same job (that would be illegal). Then they carefully explain that most of the highly paid employees are men. This occupational segregation, they say, means that it’s not really discriminatory, in the sense of equal pay for equal work.

Lessons from the BBC

One British public sector organisation – the BBC – has been the focus of intense debate. As so often in the story of a sensitive workplace issue, it begins with a whistleblower – Carrie Gracie, a journalist with 30 years’ service, latterly as China editor, one of the most prestigious positions in the corporation’s news service.

Gracie discovered that her male counterparts in other regions were being paid up to 2.5 times more than her for doing similar work. She resigned, perhaps in part in order to be able to speak freely – which she then did, with anger, dignity, and persistence.

Gracie’s brave actions, and the wider realisation that many women in the BBC are being paid less than men doing similar work, provoked both mobilisation – the BBC Women group formed to protest this injustice collectively – and a mixture of disdain and defensiveness from men.

Notably, one of the BBC’s highest paid presenters, John Humphrys, was recorded joking to one of Gracie’s more highly paid equals, Jon Sopel: “Oh dear God, she’s actually suggested you should lose money.”

We don’t know what Sopel thinks about this as a possibility. Humphrys’ tone seemed to be a mix of amusement and horror. Yet Humphrys has agreed to a pay cut following a somewhat embarrassing public response to what he called his “banter”.

So is this the answer? If men gave up some of their pay cake, would equality happen more quickly? And, perhaps more important, would men agree to it?

Slicing things differently

These questions are interlinked. We know from every previous wave of feminist activism that many men fear loss of status and power, two things manifest in work and pay. And resistance to this can be individual or institutional – British trade unions were notorious in the 1960s and 1970s for protecting men at the expense of women, often arguing against regrading or attempts to recognise skilled work done by women. Some professions are also fiercely resistant to greater diversity and inclusion.

So it’s very doubtful that individual action will have any effect. Most managers would respond to a request for a pay cut with puzzlement, and then maybe gratitude at the chance to cut the wage bill. But there’s no guarantee that the saving would be redistributed. In fact it would be very difficult to transfer this through the bureaucracy of the average organisation, in which pay is negotiated either individually or through trade unions.

The ConversationSo perhaps men requesting less pay as individuals isn’t the best way forward. Women in the 1% can, following Sheryl Sandberg’s advice, ask for a bigger slice of the pie, but Dawn Foster made clear that’s not an option for most. Perhaps it’s time that everyone, especially men, contribute by arguing for more equal outcomes when setting pay rates, considering promotion applications, and making selection decisions. Treat people equally, look past gender, challenge ideas of traditional job roles, and resist reflex bias.

Scott Taylor, Reader in Leadership and Organisation Studies, University of Birmingham

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Don’t be ridiculous. Now Moneyweb is spreading disinformation. About 7 per cent of UK women identify as feminists. 4th wave feminism is a cancer. Radical Islam and 4th wave feminism have the same intermediate goals and that is the overthrow of western society. The MO of the radical left is fairly simple: Undermine society by identifying differences and then driving wedges through them. In this case the sexes. This why the Swedish feminist government is hell bent on destroying their own country by allowing the Islamic invasion.

What is never mentioned is that women EARN less than men. They are not PAID less than men. The reasons they earn less is due to a multitude of choices not discrimination. For example women dominate social work, teaching and nursing. You ain’t gonna get rich doing that stuff. If one takes a simple average of earnings of men and compare this with average earnings of women one will find a difference. Feminists ascribe this to sexism. This is akin to drawing a map of the USA with four straight lines. Lacks resolution. If one goes into more detail there are tens or possibly hundreds of reasons for the gender earnings gap. One needs to do a tremendous amount of investigation to determine why. What the feminists do is crass and lazy -default to one-bit contemporary ideology and shout down the opposition. Oppression is the answer to everything.

Pathetic excuses for humanity.

Yes. The income gap is fully explained by life choices.

Women, on average, make choices that result in them earning less than men in their lives. These include choosing to raise children, taking jobs that result in working shorter hours, choosing less well-paid versions of similar professions* or less dangerous or stressful jobs.

* women are a majority of vets but a minority of surgeons + I’m middle-aged and lived in 3 countries. Since a child, I have never once had a female dentist or a male dental assistant…I dont think this is that unusual.

If you are a real man, or a father of daughters, you must say pay must be equal. There is no rational modern intellectual argument against it. If that means men must take a cut, then so be it.

(father of two daughters)

I fall under real man since I’m not a father to a daughter, or a father for that matter and I agree that equal pay for same work makes sense. And ya if my entry level pay is too much I’ll take a cut.

Absolute drivel that men should take a pay cut. Socialism and sexism at it’s worst.

FROM: Father of 2 Daughters, which daughters paddle their own canoes, who are educated with tertiary and professional certifications and hold down jobs locally and offshore without any demeaning squealing.

Why not show unequal pay for the same job; PROVE it happens as opposed to whining about an unproved fiction.

Exactly. What if question was phrased like this… Racial pay gap: Should whites take a pay cut? DRIVel

And for the single income families with only the father working to support the mom and daughters. Won’t such an immoral action like taking the dad’s hard-earned money be detrimental to them?

Equal pay for equal work. There are cases where women are treated unfairly, sure. That should be addressed. But it generally is the case that the women are paid too little not that the men are paid too much.

Many people complain about their pay, but people are generally paid according to the market. In many years of experience as a manager, I have not even found a handful of people paid too little or too much in fact.

No. Demanding pay cuts is immoral. Equal pay is moral.

Lastly, many proper studies have debunked the gender pay gap. After all, if women cost less for the same output, then any exploitative capitalist will hire mostly women…

Equal pay for equal work.

Not that it is relevant, but I am a father of a daughter.

Equal pay = equal duties.

I support this argument.

However, this entails the good AND the bad that goes along with it.

Given that wages are determined by demand and supply, I think the best way to ensure that women and men are paid the same wages is to eliminate (or at least reduce) the risk to a company that a woman could fall pregnant, go on maternity leave and / or resign to look after her children full time, while male employees incur no such risk.

This could be done by (a) giving fathers as much paid paternity leave as women (a FANTASTIC idea, in my opinion), (b) the government fully subsidizing a woman’s maternity leave, (c) companies being legally obligated to give women the option to take unpaid maternity leave (so that they don’t resign to look after their kids full time) etc.

Making it illegal for companies to pay men more will treat the symptom and not the underlying issue, in my opinion. We need to put far more emphasis on the role of a father in his baby’s life and give him the time he needs to bond with his baby at this crucial time. This equality will also ensure that when a company hires a man, there will be as much risk of him leaving the company in the lurch for three to six months while he’s on paternity leave and returning with babies on his brain instead of money and numbers. That will reduce demand for male employees relative to women and put downward pressure on their wages. Everyone wins, especially baby and mom! 🙂

I should have said “COMPANIES incur less risk by hiring men” (but then, being a woman does bring risk onto ourselves because we have mood swings! LOL) 🙂

There is an old adage: There are lies, damn lies and then there is statistics.

Like many statistics that are quoted on the subject, facts are ommited that make the statistics misleading and brings the reader under incorrect impressions.

When claiming that men earn more than women, this article is correct. But that comparison is totally misleading and unfair.

It does not take into account that (1) Type of job (2) Hours worked (3) Danger involved in job (4) Level of responsibility (5) Years of experience

In short: it does not compare apples to apples.

The male/female wage gap has been debunked by many researchers in many countries

Rather than focusing on equal outcomes, the focus should be on equal opportunity. And on the reasons why more girls don’t study Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Finance. These fields pay more, but are far more stressful and require longer hours.

I am a woman. I have conducted many interviews in my life. This is what I have found.
1 Women sell themselves short. Many do not negotiate.
2. Many do not want jobs which involve overnight stays.
3. Many do not want jobs which involve going to the factory floor, yards etc to supervise, check etc.
4. Many have poor math skills. Have difficulty in working out quotes, calculations.
5. Most do not play golf.
As you probably guessed my experience was in factories, building industry etc.

Not sure I agree about women having relatively poor maths skills and whether or not it should be important for a potential employee to play golf BUT I agree with the rest of your post entirely.

When I finally decided to go back to work after having children, I was offered a fantastic job at a deliciously tempting wage but I walked away from it! Why? Because I was unable to negotiate a situation where I would not have to leave the office later than 4:30pm, or come in earlier than 8:30. I also wanted to be able to work from home when my kids are sick and they need me to help them with big school projects and be assured that I can take my leave when they are on holiday etc.etc.etc.

In other words, my kids come first to me, not the company! The truth is that my children’s happy smiles, self esteem and content little natures are infinitely more importantly to me than money these days. I’ll take a big hug and “Mommy, you’re the best Mommy in the whole wide world!” any day over cash in the bank or a business title to brag about to my friends. I love being with my children and watching them feel better and learn more because of my dedication to them. It brings me far more satisfaction than my job did, even though I really did enjoy my job.

What really impressed me is that my industry (stockbroking) was prepared to take me back after eight years of being at home with my kids, at an even MORE senior level, offering me MORE compensation (including inflation adjustment) than I had before I left work! Talk about being open-minded and not giving a woman a hard time simply because I am a woman! I will never suggest I am at some kind of an unfair disadvantage because I’m a woman because I would be lying through my teeth if I did.

I don’t play golf either and I have a senior rol and good remuneration package, so that is not true.

The other points are true, though.

And even in IT and the financial services industry, it holds true.

The golf was a tongue in cheek joke. The maths skills are a true comment.The one thing that I forgot to mention is lack of support by many, not all, fellow ladies and networking is often difficult.

Continuously repeating a lie does not make it any more true. If women want equal pay, start doing equal work. I don’t see very many female miners, rubbish collectors, plumbers, electricians or any other job where you have to get your hands dirty or where there may be risk to life and limb.

No-one can or should take feminism seriously when it continuous to spout this line of BS.

Easy solution:
– Ignore gender when appointing individuals.
– Ignore race when appointing individuals.
– Do not over/underpay individuals that do the same job.
– If you over/underpay individuals be sure to have adequate performance measures and facts (relating to what has been achieved) to support.
– Appoint individuals based on qualifications, certain characteristics required and whether they fit the role based on experiences.

I can’t believe that some men are here basically defending patriarchy and not recognizing the need to to readdress and plight of women in some work places. They say that readers are MW are intellectuals but it seem like we are socially deficient here!

So, if a man disagrees with the suggestion that “men should be forced to take a pay cut in order to ensure that men are never paid more than women”, then he is necessarily “defending the patriarchy” and he is “socially deficient”? Are the people on this forum not entitled to have an opinion on the subject matter at hand without being insulted and all sorts of assumptions being made about whether or not they think women are inferior to men?

If you’re not a politician, then I think you might consider becoming one!

There is there weakness in your “argument”….’SOCIAL’ly.

If u want social go onto facebook or twotter on twitter.

Work is the real world not socialist fantasy.

Not defending the “patriarchy”, just pointing out the rational REALITY. Proponents of the gender pay gap has not done the research.

Believing the mainstream media without questioning them on this or any other subject is just lazy.

We need to use our own brains, not let others determine the agenda.

For the record, the last five people that I appointed were all female and were given very competitive remuneration packages. And they were not appointed because they were female. They were appointed because they were the best. If they were all males, I would not have thought about it differently either.

Just to reiterate: the gender pay gap is a myth. It is dishonest to claim that it exist if you don’t compare apples to apples.

I have never seen a vacancy advertised where a different compensation is offered for different genders. Absolute madness that all genders, races, ages, IQ levels etc should have the same outcomes. It will never be. Focus on equal opportunities.

Dragging someone down does not equate to picking someone else up.

The total lack of logic surrounding the equity debate is terrifying.

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