The Gender Pay Gap Myth
There are a lot of urban myths kicking about. You can tell a myth quickly because they tend to have the same structure. They tend to be a outlandish claim that happened to a friend of a relative of the teller. While interesting they have no significant effect on you as a person or society in general, and the same story pops up in different parts of the world. Some examples include Kentucky Fried mouse, someone changing a wheel for Bill Gates (or Donald Triumph) and Bill, or Donald giving them a million dollars. You get the idea ? The thing that makes them benign is that the story teller is of not a figure of authority. One would think people who command respect would check there was a sound basis for there statements, or employ someone to do so would they not ?
It was this lack of believability of the story teller that caused me, as a kid of around 14 to call bullshit on a famous story about Richard Gere and a gerbil/hamster. I just knew that the cousin of a girl I went to school with in a working class part of Belfast, Northern Ireland was not the personal doctor of a famous Hollywood film star. Besides, her cousins grew up about half a mile away and I would not have trusted them with a gerbil let alone Richard Gere’s ass. Bullshit !
However what if the person spreading the urban myth is someone important, someone people listen to, like the President of The United States of America, Barrack Obama ? This claim is coming direct from the White House. My personal view is that work should have a value, and that gender is no way to decide how much a person earns. I believe there should be laws about this and anyone found guilty of this form of discrimination should face charges and those affected should be compensated for the term of this discrimination and going forward their wages should be adjusted to match the other gender. So I went into myth busting mode, and this is what I found.
The United States passed the Equal Pay act in 1963. This act states that
No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions,
This act means that any employer who practices workplace discrimination of this kind is guilty. I would urge the White House to bring forward any evidence they have of this practice and prosecute the companies/organasations involved. I would also draw your attention to the fact this act was passed in 1963. This means for the last 41 years people have been campaigning for something that was guaranteed by law. Would it not make more sense to use the legal system that is in place than to bring people onto the street and lobby Government on a issue that is already provided for ? Or is to much like a logical response to a emotional problem ?
We must also ask what legal protection exists outside the United States of America.
On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 23 (2) clearly states
“Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work”. So there has been legal protection in place for 66 years.
This is backed up in individual countries by yet more legislation. United Kingdom (1970) Australia (1972). I could go on but I would rather not just do a long list of countries and legal acts. Suffice to say yahoo will take you to relevant laws in your country, and you have the backing of Human Rights laws to take a case anywhere in the world. If a country is not willing to listen to that I believe equal pay is down the list of your problems.
However legal rights are only of use provided they can be accessed. In order to validate if these powers are capable of being utalised in a meaningful way we look to see successful cases. The most recent case I was able to find occurred in the United Kingdom. In April 2014 a group of employes took a case against Swasea Metropolitan University claiming there hourly rate was less than members of the opposite sex on the same pay scale. At the tribunal
the University decided to cease contesting the case and each employee will be awarded around £30,000 each. This victory for equal pay proves beyond a doubt it is possible to gain equal pay provided you can demonstrate discrimination. Incase you were wondering, it was men that won the case, y demanding there rights through a legal procedure. Litigation, the sane alternative to protests and urban myths.
My conclusion, as they say on a well known television program, Myth Busted !