We're watching this row at the BBC over the gender pay gap with more than just a touch of amusement. For the correct, in our minds, lesson to take from this is that most of those complaining are more than just a little dim.
Please note that we're not saying that the pay structure itself is correct, nor that that of society itself is. Those are value judgments and we'll not impose ours on you nor the real world. But the shock and horror being expressed is most odd, for the gaps being presented are little different from those across society. Indeed, the BBC seems to be doing its job of being as society, reflecting society, rather well:
Women working at the BBC have spoken of the anger and frustration that has emerged across all levels of the institution after the disparity in pay between the male and female top earners was revealed.
What is the gender pay gap does depend rather upon how one measures it. But the figure that varied feminists often use is the mean gap, uncorrected for anything like age or qualifications. They have also been told (Harriet Harman specifically in fact) not to use this as it is highly misleading.
Why so? Because if you have a distribution where the bottom anchor is zero but there is no obvious upper limit then the mean will over state the reality, the median is a better figure to use. So says that Statistics Authority.
But why is that mean misleading about the gender pay gap? Because in near all pay distributions there are many fewer women in that upper stratosphere than there are men. Yes, we do know why, motherhood, primary child carers, career breaks and so on, just do mean that the average experience of womens' working life leads to less grasping of that brass ring of a very high income. Again ,we do not say this should be so but we do insist that it is so.
It is also well known that this is so. There just always are fewer women in the upper reaches of any pay distribution, we know this so well that we've official warnings not to use misleading statistics about it all.
At which point the amusement. The BBC is that institution which is supposed to explain this complex and difficult world to us all. Yet here we have all this shock and horror over something that is indeed known, just not by those doing the shock and horror.
Hmm, perhaps dim isn't le mot juste, ignorant of what they speak perhaps?