Should part-time working mums be paid less than men? Two female writers with VERY different opinions go to war
REMARKS made by The Chase’s “Governess” that working mothers do not deserve to earn the same as their male counterparts have reignited the gender pay argument once again.
Here two writers, Kathy Gyngell and Harriet Minter wade into the debate.
“I couldn’t have it all – neither can you” says Kathy Gyngell, co-editor of The Conservative Woman
Working mums – who are never off the phone to their nannies and always have to rush off because little Johnny has a snotty nose or a school play – expect us to buy into the conceit that they are worth as much as men to their employers and that they deserve equal pay. They are not and they don’t.
In fact the gender pay gap is a myth. Before women stop to have babies they earn more than their male peers. What they “suffer” afterwards is simply an earnings gap. Work less, and you earn less. It’s a simple equation that feminists fail to grasp.
When women become mothers they become less committed, less reliable and frankly less valuable.
Female staff are a headache for employers, who live in equal dread of school holidays, or of each new pregnancy announcement, knowing the effect these will have on their workload and budget.
I say this as a mother of two who accepts that I forfeited a good salary and career prospects because I chose to give up working for my children.
As well as the pang at being parted from my babies, I saw the impact it had on my work and colleagues. I accepted I couldn’t have it all.
My refusal to give up breastfeeding, for which I sneaked off home at lunchtime, my constant phone calls to the childminder, my fatigue and late arrival in the mornings all burdened colleagues who had to cover for me.
So, after a year of being torn, I chucked it in. Has my career suffered? Yes. Did I lose my financial independence? Yes. But it was a choice I’ve never regretted in the years since.
Women have never had more accommodating employers. Employers have capitulated to every “family friendly” demand for equality, regardless of the cost to them and their productivity.
We can part time work or job share. We’ve never had more employment opportunity, dominating teaching, medicine and the law. Despite all this some women still not satisfied. Still they moan that they are paid less, insisting a gender pay gap exists.
Women can’t have it all – the lovely maternity leave mornings in the park, snuggly baby cuddles for as long as you want in the mornings and also being a big dog at work, expecting to get the same pay and career as a man, or a woman who hasn’t had children. And the sooner women accept that, the better.
“Rather than paying women less, we should actually be paying them more,” says Harriet Minter, from Talk Radio’s Badass Women’s Hour
Despite the fact that it has been 50 years since it became illegal to pay men and women differently for doing the same job, the chances are that if you’re a woman then the man sat next to you right now is earning more simply because of his gender.
The fact that the gender pay gap – the difference between the average man’s salary and the average woman’s salary – currently stands at 17 percent can’t be brushed away with a simple “Oh women just don’t negotiate” or “Men are just better suited to higher paying jobs”.
It’s literally sexism at work and we need to bring it to an end.
There are far fewer women in senior roles, men dominate the higher paying professions and once children are born, men see their pay surge (apparently their ability to procreate makes them instantly better at their jobs) while women see their pay drop.
Research shows us that women actually work harder than men, making it possible for them to achieve more in a shorter period of time. So while men tend to work longer hours, they’re not actually achieving any more.
Our belief that once a woman has had a child she is no longer interested in her career doesn’t just damage the working lives of mothers, it also affects women without children.
As a woman in her mid-thirties, I’m all too aware that the question: “So when are you going to have kids?” lingers on the lips of everyone I meet.
It’s an assumption and for employers it makes you a risk. This is incredibly depressing for everyone involved.
We make work incredibly difficult for mothers: we doubt their commitment, question their time-keeping and somehow make them feel guilty for not being good enough at work and at home.
I’m sure that not having children has helped my career. It’s meant I’ve been available whenever an opportunity came up and nobody rolls their eyes when I have to leave the office early, they assume it’s a one off – a privilege we never give to women with children.
When working mothers ask for flexible hours, the chances are they’ll still be doing as much as they did before.
Ask anyone who comes back to work after a child on three or four days a week whether their workload has been similarly reduced and they’ll tell you no, most part-time workers are doing a full-time job just in less time.
Women know the value of time. We have to, after all we’re not just doing our professional work, we’re also responsible for the vast majority of home-based work.
When you factor in how much unpaid housework and caregiving women do, compared to men, it adds up to an extra month of work a year.
I’m sceptical that women are born natural multi-taskers but I do believe that we’re brought up to be better at it than men are.
We have to be, we’re simply responsible for more stuff. So when you think that a working mother might not be as reliable as a single man, you’re basically dismissing someone who is trained to juggle workloads and provide maximum effort in minimum time, for someone who has never had to focus on anyone other than himself.
I know which one I’d pick.
Years ago I worked with a man who admitted he preferred hiring women because they worked harder, were less demanding and far more reliable than their male counterparts.
Rather than paying women less, we should actually be paying them more.
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When we say that women deserve to be paid less than men we buy into an outdated and inaccurate belief that men, despite performing worse at school, university and in entry level jobs, are harder workers than women.
You can believe that if you wish but just know the money you’re paying them isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
Harriet Minter is a presenter on Talk Radio’s Badass Women’s Hour @HarrietMinter
This content was originally published here.