So yesterday I asked the question why important and responsible jobs which are mainly done by women tend to be less well paid than important and responsible jobs which are mainly done by men. And I’m afraid that the only answer I can come up with is that it’s because they’re mainly done by women.
Yes, you could argue that this is a sort of coincidence; that these jobs just happen to be less well-paid because the going rate for a qualified nurse, a primary school teacher and an HR professional is less than for a systems developer, a project manager or an IT professional, but it still comes down to the same thing. If women are systematically less well paid during and over their lifetimes than men, which they are, then good, well-qualified hard-working women will be cheaper than good, well-qualified hard-working men. A woman, in other words, will work for less than a man.
And thus we get to the position where companies and organisations which have roles to fill in jobs which are mainly done by women will have to pay less for a good person than companies and organisations which have roles to fill in jobs which are mainly done by men. In other words, women are paid less than men, not because they’re women and therefore less capable (even the patriarchy no longer relies on this argument), but because women are paid less than men. As the old First World War song says, we’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here. It totally sucks, but as a circular argument it has all the compulsion and drag of a whirlpool and is equally hard to get out of. Hold that thought.
Let’s look at the second argument which tends to be levied by the manocracy when women point out that they are systemically and consistently paid less than men: babies. Ah, say the naysayers, but women take time off to have babies, and to look after them. And then they drop behind men in their career progression, because they’ve been out of the workplace, or they come back in part-time and less senior roles, and that’s why they earn less. It’s not because they’re women, oh dear, no.