When I started documenting examples of glassspotism in mainstream media reporting of gender equality issues, I was surprised at just how many articles jumped out at me from my one time favorite daily the Independent.
Much of the content has come from the more succinct digital digest i100 section but even so, when you’re claiming to produce ‘high-quality, authoritative journalism’ under the Independent banner you’d like to think that this would include the avoidance of articles that are either extremely sloppy with the facts, overtly biased in their world view or just downright man hatey.
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Cheerfully, serial offender Dina Rickman appears to have pulled back from her man-hating extremes recently but perhaps the Deputy Editor has just got better at delegating, because her colleagues have ensured that they are still generating plenty of content worthy of a second look and a critical eye.
Given David Cameron’s recent somewhat surprise announcement about equal pay duties for 250+ companies, I thought it was a good time to pick out a few choice examples about what the Indy has had to say about the subject recently.
EYE is planning to have a more detailed conversation about equal pay next month so this also serves as a timely reflection of the simplistic, sexist and self serving way the subject can sometimes be portrayed in the media.
For the uninitiated: the gender pay gap is the difference between male and female earnings expressed as a percentage of male earnings. In plain English it proposes that if all the boys and girls in the country huddled together and compared their pay packets they would, according to Government statistics, find that the girls have 17.5% less to spend down the shops.
Anyone working on the coalface of Human Resourcing (78% female) will tell you that the reasons for this are complex and if gender differences in tax contributions and consumer spending are taken into account (which they never are) arguments about gender and distribution of wealth suddenly become much more nuanced.
Direct sex discrimination will most likely still explain a small proportion of the pay gap. Discrimination in pay certainly was relatively overt not all that very long ago which is why the Equal Pay act was necessary. That said, given that legislation has been in place for over 40 years it becomes hard to argue that a large proportion of employers are still rewarding men and women with different rates for their trouble for reasons that are solely or even particularly gender related.
But for today let’s assume that the primary reason why women on average bring 20% less bacon (may as well round up, as people often do) comes down to plain olde sex discrimination and consider some recent Independent observations in this context.
First off we have Nigel Morris’ relatively ungracious response to Cameron’s plan to ‘end the gender pay gap in a generation where he points out ‘the one thing David Cameron’s pay gap announcement ignores’.
Predictably the one flaw Morris identifies in Cameron’s master plan isn’t the inconvenient truth that, using the current formula, women below the age of 40 now on average earn more than their male counterparts.
Instead it is the now well worn argument emanating from Gloria De Piro’s Office that women will bear the brunt of Osborne’s austerity cuts with 70 per cent of welfare savings over the next 5 years coming out of the pockets of women.
I’ve already pointed out the obvious blindspots in that argument, so instead let’s move on and consider Louis Dore’s practical word for word regurgitation of the observations on equal pay recently offered from the loftily titled UN under-secretary-general and executive director of UN Women’s.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka recent speech drew attention to what she reckons is one of the world’s worst pay gaps, namely the fact that the women entertaining us in their recent world cup received a total payout valued at 40 times less than their male equivalents.
Deeply entrenched, discriminatory notions of women’s diminished status, whether the issue is a playing field or a paycheck, harm individual women and girls. They are denied their rights and blocked from achieving their full potential. Such norms also undermine sport itself, tarnishing notions such as fair play and open competition. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women
Fair play and good luck to any women out there who want to have a kick around obviously (or watch one for that matter) but let’s face it, putting forward this argument without the slightest nod to the existence of other ‘material factors’ is almost as insulting to the average Joe or Jane’s intelligence as the recent muddle from a muggle that was UN Women’s #HeforShe oddity.
Still if we’re counting all the silly money Wayne Rooney and his chums pocket every year, that may go quite some way to explaining the overall pay gap but, then again, seeing as we’re determined to distract ourselves from the very real and increasingly ginormous pay gap between the top 1% and everyone else, I may as well point out that Fortune.com have actually identified a gender pay gap that’s 100 times bigger than the current travesty in football, and guess what… it’s in favour of women.
Finally, lets end with some good news from Chris Hooton’s brilliantly titled jennifer-lawrence-to-earn-twice-as-much-as-chris-pratt-with-next-film-in-victory-for-gender-pay-gap At least we now have idea about where the i100 editorial team probably reckon fiscal reward trends really need to be heading before we can start popping the champagne corks and calling time on the equal pay for equal value debate.
Obviously there’s still some work to do so I doubt we’ll be short of equal pay stories anytime soon, hopefully Cameron’s announcement will mean that some day soon we might get a story about how moral guardians like the Independent stack up. As the Women & Equalities Office had to fess up to recently, it’s easier said than done.