We can all think up solutions to varied societal problems, methods of achieving desires. Some of them are even based upon reasonable logic. For example, if the gender pay gap is the creation of gender different reactions to the arrival of children, will insisting upon gender neutral responses lea to the eradication of the gap? Seems a reasonable enough insistence to be honest.
It's also largely our own view - men and women tend, note, tend - to react differently to the arrival of the little ones and the intersection with that working world out there. That's what causes that gender pay gap. If that reaction were entirely gender neutral - if, for example, 50% of fathers became primary child carer - then we do think that the pay gap would disappear.
That doesn't though mean that mandatory paternal leave is going to do away with that gap:
In the family of Canada’s provinces and territories, Quebec has long been the noisy, rebellious child. In 2006, it divorced itself from the country’s complex and lacklustre parental leave programme. The province created its own system, the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP), a model influenced by Scandinavian countries and with the aim of improving gender equality.
Well paid paternity leave which can only be taken by the bloke. This has more than a small resemblance to things being proposed here, doesn't it? But the important question isn't whether the logic seems reasonable, it's whether it actually works. You know, that testing of a hypothesis against reality?
Among the provinces, P.E.I. is the standout performer. The province gets a "B," but with a wage gap of 10.7 per cent it places fourth overall, after Belgium (3.3), Denmark (6.3), and Norway (7.1). Manitoba rounds out the top five with a wage gap of 13.2 per cent.
The next highest-ranking province, New Brunswick, places 9th overall and also gets a "B" with a gender wage gap of 14.3 per cent, in line with peer country the Netherlands (14.1). Ontario (16.2), Quebec (16.4), and Nova Scotia (16.4) get “C” grades with gender wage gaps comparable to those in the U.K. (16.9), the Switzerland (16.9).
Hmm. Quebec has greater paternity leave than places with lower gender pay gaps. And, also, places with higher. We actually appear to see no effect at all, no even correlation, between better paternity leave and the gender pay gap.
Agreed, it might all be a little early and all that. Perhaps a society of displaced Frenchmen is different. Or a still largely Catholic society is. But we don't have any evidence that the policy works, do we?
Our own reading of this and the situation in general is that it isn't maternity or paternity leave itself which causes the pay gap, it's the decades long difference in life and work priorities that does. Something we think might be rather harder to change in a sexually dimorphic species.