Having just read this and spat half my tea over my computer screen, let me count to ten, breathe deeply and say the following:
1) I don't know how the women in work commission get their theory that only 5% of the pay gap is a result of direct discrimination (the link he provides leads only to a front page but most of the links there are broken) but speaking as a women who worked 8 years in the financial services sector - a woman with no particular propensity to get sick and who during that time never had a baby or so much as a dependent goldfish -the pay gap is alive and well and all about direct and indirect discrimination. Neither kind of discrimination is acceptable.
Now I will accept that deliberate, conscious under-paying, under-promoting and under-recruiting of women is rare. But there are lots of other ways women miss out. To list but a few:
- Not having our ideas taken seriously at meetings.
- Women being recruited for looks rather than abilities and then being unable to keep up with male colleagues.
- Missing out on networking opportunities that take place in strip clubs, etc.
- Being criticised over our appearance, while male colleagues are not.
- Being unable to take part in business trips to places like Saudi Arabia where women have restricted movement.
- Being mistaken for administrative staff and given paperwork instead of proper work to do.
- Having unpleasant sexual remarks made about you within earshot.
- Being criticised for being too pushy while male colleagues are congratulated for sticking to their guns.
- Being told how lucky we are to have got the job in the first place.
- Being excluded from team banter.
(I could go on all week)
Even if this mystical 5% number had any truth in it - what is so wrong with wanting to close a gap that by your own admission is directly caused by outright prejudice?
2) Discrimination against women because they take maternity leave and have more domestic responsibilities is still not acceptable. If we are to insist that it's ok to underpay women because they have wombs and (shock horror) might use them then would infertile women be afforded a pay rise on bringing in a certificate of hysterectomy? Or indeed, for dramatic effect, their removed womb in a freezer bag?
And do we actually want to live in a society where people with children are deliberately underpaid in case it affects their work? How will that affect the next generation?
3) As to the notion that part-time workers deserve mistreatment because they are less useful and require more training: most part-time workers I know are women who have gone back part time after having a child. They therefore needed no additional training, they all work more hours than they are paid for and they all afford their employers flexibility because they can adjust their schedule to accommodate busy periods (e.g. working an extra day at month-end).
In short, Tim, when you say in your title "Not All Discrimination Is Bad" - remember the definition of discrimination:
Discrimination: (n) treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit.
Yes all discrimination is bad. People deserve to be judged on their individual skills and merits - not on prejudice about how they might behave because they happen to have a cunt.