Shut Up about the Gender Gap17 November 2011
Well, it is always good to start on an assertive title. The topic of today's article is the Gender Gap, and how feminists risk shifting from bastions of equality of purveyors of selfishness. In some cases they already have, though I have yet to see any that actually go as far as Millie Tant. Anyway, lets start off with the evidence:
Exhibit One is the outcome of research by the HEPI into the relative prospects of males and females after graduation. And it is rather bleak for men. In December 2008 both groups were 11% unemployed, but now it is 14% for girls but 17% for boys. To make matters worse (unless you are someone who likes the idea of being a house-husband), the rate of university attendance is much higher for girls than boys, so that means
Exhibit Two is UCAS statistics showing newly graduated females earning more than men, a trend that has been seen before when comparing blacks in the US. Not only that, women are getting substantially higher pay rises.
There are various theories kicking around, but the best I have come across are variants on the theme of shifts in the economy. Men, particularly northerners, have tended to go into industry which are still largely male dominated but are also in decline. The shift towards a service-based economy (a mistake in my opinion, but that is a separate argument over economic diversity) tends to favour sectors which at the very least tend to be more favourable for women.
A lot of the imbalances are historic, and over time will go away (in the US, it is men that are now increasingly the ball and chain). Judges are overwhelmingly male, because in the UK judges tend to have had a previous career, and not enough women have filtered through the system into the pool judges are drawn from. Of course you have the chauvinists who subscribe to cave-man attitudes toward women, but as soon as you try to fasttrack women into senior posts you develop resentment among those who are neutral on the issue. This is one reason why female-dominated company boards were a complete disaster during the credit crunch compared to boards where less imposed transitions happened. The problem with such positive discrimination and equal opportunities campaigns in general is that they have a tendency to backfire. This has led to cases where entire company workforces have been made redundant to avoid an avalanche of discrimination claims, and there is now a clear trend of people using old-boys-network approaches to recruitment simply as a way of avoiding troublesome people.
One of the other problems it that you have campaigns such as the NUS Women's public sector campaign, which in reality is just a cynical (and fairly dishonest) attempt to paint those who understand government deficits as bastions of inequality. Many of these people are ones who would have complained about increases in insurance premiums for female car drivers.
So in summary the best thing for womenkind will be for them to stop burning bras and concentrate on getting that job. Of course there are sociological issues related to full equality, which is a spin-off of adopting male attitudes..