Friday, 6 November 2015

The Outcome of Outcome Feminism – Part 7 – Discussion of Assumption 1

Author: Blaise Wilson

The Outcome of Outcome Feminism Series:

Part 1 – Factors to be Controlled: http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/outcomeoutcomefem1.html
Part 2- Assumptions: http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/outcomeoutcomefem2.html
Part 3 – Freeing Women's Time and Money: http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/outcomeoutcomefem3.html
Part 4 – Cultural Pressure : http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/outcomeoutcomefem4.html
Part 5 – Discrimination: http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/outcomeoutcomefem6.html
Part 6 – Discussion of Assumption 6: http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/outcomeoutcomefem6.html
Part 7 – Discussion of Assumptions 1: This article
Part 8 - The Outcome of Outcome Feminism Conclusion: http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/outcomeoutcomefem8.html
Part 9 - Campaigns and Action: http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/outcomeoutcomefem9.html

Abstract/TLDR

In this article the assumption that the Gender Wage Gap is a suitable measure of opportunity and discrimination is investigated.

After highlighting 'best practice' from countries with no wage gap, it was discovered that working part-time or not at all is a luxury that should be appreciated rather than condemned.

A survey revealed that most full-time working mothers of young children would prefer to work fewer hours, countering the assertion most women want to have full-time careers over domestic responsibilities.

The conclusion shows the Gender Wage Gap is based on faulty assumptions and is not a suitable measure of discrimination or opportunity. It does not take wider factors into account and should not be used. Alternative measures should be investigated.

Introduction

In order to keep this series in a reasonable length, only two of the assumptions previously highlighted [4] are analysed. Assumption 6: Gender is a Social Construct was analysed in the previous article [8], this article covers Assumption 1: The Wage Gap is a problem that needs to be solved.

If this assumption proves to be false, it means using the Gender Wage Gap as a measure of effectiveness is inappropriate and alternative measures should be investigated.

“Assumption 1: The Wage Gap is a problem that needs to be fixed [1, 2].

It assumes that the correct result Wage Gap should be zero, and that all women should be earning the same as all men, regardless of any other factors. It also highlights that there is a need to “recognize best practice and success stories” [2] from others that have a minimal wage gap.” [4]

First lets look at an example of 'best practise' in which the wage gap is akin to zero. Such as Rwanda, Burundi and Nicaragua.

Best Practice

“Rwanda receives a perfect score (1.00 = equality) for labour-market participation; 88 per cent of women and 86 per cent of men have some form of paid employment... Although lots of Rwandan women and men work, it seems most barely earn enough to lift them out of poverty. In Britain, with its higher GDP, women in general have far more options open to them and some can even afford the luxury of not working outside the home at all. That most Rwandan women don’t have this choice hardly seems something to celebrate.” [3]

This demonstrates an important point. The option of being a stay at home parent is a privilege. Even the choice of going part-time instead of full-time is a choice many in deprived countries do not have. Such choices should not be taken for granted, and certainly not looked down upon.

Wage Gap Break Down

Breaking down the Gender Wage Gap into full and part-time components provides an interesting picture.

In the UK full time working men earn 10% more than their female counterparts [5, p12]. However, men also work 10% more hours than women: “In 2013 men, on average, worked 40.1 [6, p4] to 44 [6, p19] hours compared to women's 37.4 [5, p4] to 40 [6, p19] hours [5, p4].” [9] (references have been updated to co-inside with the links below).

When considering the part-time scenario women earn more than men, with women not only working an average of 1 hour more than men [5, p5], but also being paid more, with men earning £7.95 to women's £8.40 an hour [5 p5].

Women are far more likely to work part-time than men [6, p1] and it is only by comparing all men to all women, by comparing part-time to full-time work that the gender pay gap comes out at 19.7% in 2013 [7, p4]. The main reason for the discrepancy is hours worked. Thus the main way to reduce the gender pay gap is to ensure the average work done by all men equals that or all women – either by increasing women's work or decreasing men's. However, once children are taken into account, the biological influences of estrogen plays a role in many women prioritising time with their children over their careers, meaning they are less likely to want to work full-time [8].

Netmums released the results of a survey of over 4000 mothers of young children and “the results included the fact that 88% of those working full time would rather work part time or stay at home with their children.” [10]

The concept that men and women are equally likely to be the main caregivers to their children in based in the concept that gender is a social concept, and this assumption was dispelled in the previous post [8].

Is the Wage Gap a Suitable Measure?

The wage gap is a measure of paid working hours, not including benefits which might make a significant difference. It is used to demonstrate discrimination however this is built on faulty assumptions and does not take biology into account. It does not reflect equality of opportunity, as it is only a measure of outcome without considering wider factors or individual choice.

Discussion

The survey quoted used a self-selected and specific demographic (mothers of young children) and the data highlighted could suffer from the accusation of cherry picked data. Further surveys on men and women's preference for hours worked, especially with children, might provide interesting results. It would either support or refute the idea that all women want to work the same as all men, highlighting if the outcomes of hours worked are choice or if individuals are being forced into their current roles.

Other further work could include the discussion of the other assumptions mentioned in this series, but haven’t been analysed. If anyone would like to take on this role or has discussed similar topics on their own website, please contact us [11].

As the Gender Wage Gap is based on the assumption that women only choose to priorities their families due to social pressure, rather than at least partially by biological influences (gender is a social construct) and this have been proven invalid [8] it shows that there will not be a 50/50 ratio of men and women making identical choices. Thus the Gender Wage Gap is not a suitable measure of discrimination or opportunity.

Although it could be a useful metric as a comparison of the average of all men to the average of all women’s paid work, but should not be used to attempt to force litigation.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Gender Wage Gap is an unsuitable measure and does not provide useful data on discrimination or opportunity. It does not take individual choice or biological factors into account and is built on the faulty assumption that gender is a social construct.

References

[1] New Republic – How to Equalize the Female Pay Gap
http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118653/how-equalize-female-compensation accessed 29/08/2015

[2] New Brunswick: The Wage Gap Action Plan 2005-2010
https://www.gnb.ca/0012/Womens-Issues/wg-es/tools/pdf/5-Action_E.pdf accessed 29/08/2015

[3] Wage Gap in Rwanda, Burundi and Nicaragua is almost non existent:
http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/global-gender-gap-equality-is-overrated/16110 accessed 29/08/2015

[4] Outcome of Outcome Feminism Assumptions:
http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/outcomeoutcomefem2.html accessed 17/10/2015

[5] Wage Gap Analysis 1997 – 2013 UK Government:
http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171766_353368.pdf accessed 26/10/2015

[6] UK Women in the labour market 1971 – 2013: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_328352.pdf accessed 09/08/2015

[7] 2014 UK Gender Wage Analysis: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/295833/Analysis_of_the_Gender_Pay_Gap.pdf accessed 26/10/2015

[8] EgaFem – Discussion of Assumption 6:
http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/outcomeoutcomefem6.html accessed 26/10/2015

[9] EgaFem – Factors to be Controlled
http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/outcomeoutcomefem1.html accessed 02/11/2015

[10] Netmum's survey on the great work debate:
http://www.netmums.com/home/netmums-campaigns/the-great-work-debate accessed 02/11/2015

[11] Contact Us: Details found at the bottom of the page
http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/p/controbutors.html accessed 05/11/2015

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