The Fawcett Society really must start getting this right about the gender pay gap

Yet another report from the Fawcett Society on the iniquities of the gender pay gap. Yet another year in which they get the calculation wrong. This is now half a decade at least since they were told they're getting it wrong and yet still they continue to do so. The reason they do this is obvious, their method bigs up the problem they wish to complain about, doing it correctly does not. So, what is a campaigning group to do, eh

 Progress has stalled on closing the gender pay gap, which now stands at 14.1% according to the Office for National Statistics, with no movement on the figure in the last three years.

No, the ONS does not say that. The Fawcett mistake is explained here, in their press release.

To calculate the gender pay gap the Fawcett Society uses the ONS mean average full-time pay gap of 14.1%. Others often cite the median average which currently stands at 9.1% for full time workers, and has decreased by only 0.4 percentage points in the last five years.

As we've pointed out before the ONS, the Statistics Authority, both are insistent that we must use the median, not the mean. The reason being that our system of measurement is bounded at the bottom, we don't count negative incomes (which do exist, ask any bankrupt) but there is no upper bound to pay. Thus the median is a much better guide to the average experience.

Our then Kate Andrews made this point as well.

So far of course this is angels on pinheads stuff. Except, of course, that such public ineptitude should be pointed to. Then, after that, we do need to point to something much more important. Which is that, once we start with the right number, a gender pay gap of 9.6%, we find that it's not actually due to gender at all.

As we've explained elsewhere it's to do with primary childcare arrangements. Fathers earn more than non-fathers, mothers less than non-mothers. Mix and match the by how much of both of those with the relevant portions of the population and we have a complete and total explanation for that observed 9.6% gap. As other research has shown - familial roles are all we need to describe the observed reality.

We can, of course we can, still complain about this, campaign to change it. But if the cause is that mothers tend to be the primary childcarer then any action to change matters needs to change the manner in which parents parent, shouting about employers isn't going to make much difference, is it?