Finally, even the TUC gets with the program


We've been arguing for a near a decade around here that the UK does not in fact have a gender pay gap. Rather, we've a motherhood, or perhaps a parent, pay gap. In line with Madsen's idea of our function when we started saying it people were shocked at our stupidity. It's now becoming the conventional wisdom, so much so that even the TUC appears to be getting up to speed on it:

Women who become mothers before the age of 33 earn 15% less than similar women who haven’t had children, according to new analysis published by the TUC on International Women’s Day today (Tuesday). The pay penalty for younger mums comes about as they are more likely to have had a significant period out of work or working part-time, before returning to full-time work when their children are older.

Yes, very much what we've been saying. And there's other research which shows that earnings decline for women (on average of course) by 9% or so per child they bear. Other research published for this special day:

A separate study by The Fawcett Society said the motherhood penalty still existed in the UK because mothers were judged to be less committed to their work. Its survey of 8,000 people found almost half believed women were less committed to jobs after having a baby, compared to just 11 per cent for men. Chief executive Sam Smethers said: 'It is clear that when a woman has a baby she is overwhelmingly perceived as becoming less committed to her job, while a dad is much more likely to be seen as more committed. 'This drives inequality and forces women and men into traditional male breadwinner, female carer roles.'

We agree with the evidence there but not with the logic. We're absolutely fine with the idea that anyone can adopt any gender role they desire. But it does remain that most parents do choose to adopt what we might call traditional gender roles concerning their children. Mothers as the primary carer, fathers as the primary provider. If it is people being forced into this then of course we're against it. If people are choosing this then we're just as happy as Larry: liberalism is about people being able to enact their own choices.

And the truth does seem to be that it is those choices made as parents which drive what some call the gender pay gap. After we account for age, education, time in the workforce and all that, mothers make, on average, less than non-mothers and fathers make more than non-fathers. It's in the 8-10% or so range either way. And given that the majority do become mothers, the majority fathers, that's around and about enough to explain that 10% or so gender pay gap that ONS and others report.

Again, if this is imposed upon people then we're agin' it. If it's emergent from peoples' free choices about how to live their lives then not only why would we object but why would anyone want to do anything about it?