In praise of the Fawcett Society


It's not often that I'll praise blinkered ideological groups like The Fawcett Society but today I find that I need to. For they've finally managed to catch up with what has been obvious to the rest of us for years. Their latest report (.pdf) is called "Not having it all: how motherhood reduces womens' pay and employment prospects".

No, really, they've just noticed. After years of telling us that the gender pay gap is grossly unfair, a denial of human rights, a symptom of the patriarchy and a blot on the landscape of this fair land they've finally managed to work out that there isn't really a gender pay gap at all, there's actually a mothers' pay gap. 

Motherhood has a direct and dramatic in uence on women’s pay and employment prospects, and typically this penalty lasts a lifetime.

Quite, something I've been known to bang on about now and again. When you look through all of the statistics about the so called gender pay gap you find that it doesn't apply to never married childless women. That could be something of a clue to the point that it's not in fact a gender pay gap at all. It's all, as this report points out, about motherhood, taking time out of the labour force to have and to raise children.

Now, I think that the Fawcetters and I might differ about where we go from here: if pay gaps are a result of different choices in life then I've not got a problem with them. I don't complain that I don't earn City money for I tried the City and realised I wasn't willing to live like that to earn City money. Fawcetters seem to think that we should change society so that there isn't a mothers' pay gap: their right to advocate such, of course.

But at least we now all agree upon the analysis: no, there isn't a gender pay gap, there's a motherhood one. We can now move on to discussing whether this is something we want to change or not and if so, what might we do in order to do so?

For only if we've correctly analysed the causes of any problem can we possibly hope to solve it.

So well done to The Fawcett Society: however, in future, do you think you might try to be less than, say, five years behind the times?