Hey, government, how’s the equal pay act going? That bad? Cool. As is probably old news by now (sorry) the BBC was recently forced by the government to release the details of their highest paid staff.. And say what you will about this being a ploy by the Tories to end government-funded television, I am always happy to have more evidence of the wage gap. Only a third of the highest earners in the BBC are women? Awesome. Top seven highest earners are men? Great.
Why am I so excited by inequality, you ask? Because the existence of the gender wage gap is probably one of the most dismissed facts of all time, up there with the egg coming first and the world being round. The favourite argument against the pay gap simply being “it’s not real.” No matter how many facts you throw at someone about more Johns running companies than women, or women earning roughly 9.4 per cent less than men. It’s never enough. I’m always “simplifying”. But I have new facts now. Maybe these ones will work…
Derek Thompson and Gillian Taylforth seem to me to have very similar jobs. Thompson appearing as a nurse in over 700 episodes of the show Casualty, and Taylforth playing Kathy Beale in EastEnders for more than 1,000 episodes. Thompson earns £350,000 to £399,999 a year and Taylforth earns £150,000 to £199,999. While these actors’ jobs won’t be exactly the same, it doesn’t seem like it warrants a £200,000 difference.
And there are hundreds of cases like this across the BBC. Men and women in almost identical roles with very different salaries. I’m not gonna write them all out because you know… one can only be so committed to equality. I’m kind of joking, but I’m still not gonna do it. Luckily, all these salaries are very easy to find on the BBC website, and all show the same disheartening pattern. From news anchors to sports presenters, actors to talkshow hosts, women are always a little behind – 10 per cent behind to be exact.
So now that it’s hopefully obvious there is a wage gap, why the hell is there a wage gap? Well as everyone is so eager to point out, it is a complex issue but this doesn’t make it a myth; it just makes it a complex issue.
Women are frequently paid less because they work less hours. This is because a lot of unpaid labour such as housework, raising children and caring for the elderly often fall to women. Society is still dragging women down a path of housework while pushing men up the financial ladder. Motherhood is also shown be be very detrimental to a woman’s career while boosting the father’s. Mothers are often thought to be less committed to their careers and are in turn less likely to be hired.
Men are also statistically far more likely to hold high paying jobs. This is because masculine traits like being commanding and strong are often favoured by employers. However, masculinity is only appreciated in men. Women who are commanding and masculine (and I believe there are as many masculine woman as masculine men) are more likely to be called ‘bossy’.
Women are also more likely to take lower paying contracts and less likely to argue their salaries. This is probably due to a lack of confidence from women, and again the idea that being commanding and forceful are masculine traits;,not accepted in women. They are more likely to be seen as nagging, not negotiating.
All of these factors have contributed to the equally complex and real issue that is the pay gap, and most of them share the easy fix of people just not being sexist! Masculine woman should be as valued as masculine men; femininity shouldn’t be looked down upon. There’s nothing wrong with being nice and nurturing and yet we have fostered a stigma against it and against the women who have been linked with it.
In short: we can close the pay gap. We can accept men and women, masculinity and femininity and pay everyone the same for doing the same jobs. Come on people. It’s 2017. This sucks.