Moan, Wail, Etc...

As spotted by (and pulled to shreds by) the excellent Ambush Predator, this guff from the Guardian:


There will be much to pick over in the ashes of the 192 organisations being abolished by the government in its "bonfire of the quangos". From the audit commission to the Design Council, from the agricultural wages board to the hearing aid council, money will be saved and services will be lost. With more than 10,000 jobs vanishing, it's perhaps not surprising that there's been only a quiet cheep about the disappearance of a small and relatively inexpensive quango – the women's national commission.
I doubt I will be picking over anything, more likely raising a glass to toast the savings, however small.
I certainly doubt that any "services" will be lost. The only people that will even notice will be those who loose their jobs and are forced to move to the private sector. I'm imagining that will be somewhat of a culture shock.
However, lets hear some more about this Women's National Commission, because I, as I imagine you, have never heard of them.
It was set up by Harold Wilson and Barbara Castle in 1969, a year after the equal pay strike by women workers at Ford's. Those who remember the fiery Castle will know that her spirit, wherever it is, will be spitting tacks and turning the ether blue at news of the WNC's demise.
Really? It was set up forty one years ago, in an age where women were paid less for doing the same job as men. Based on that, to me it seems like job done. Why is it still around now? And what would Ms Castle really think?
It's not hard to see why the WNC appeared on the list for the bonfire. It could sound a bit woolly; it's an "umbrella body" that provides a "voice" for women and brings "issues of concern" to the government. Could not all these things be done on a freelance basis, outside the state?
I really don't see that women need a body to provide a voice for them, at the expense of the taxpayer, anymore, if ever they did. Women seem quite capable of providing their own voice.
Castle looked forward to a world in which women would not only be treated just like men in the workplace, but would play a bigger role in Britain generally. Her 1970 Equal Pay Act was a landmark, outlawing the general practice of paying women less than men for the same job; but remember that because women tend to be cajoled into certain jobs, the real pay gap between the sexes remains at around 22%.
No it doesn't (and no they aren't). If a woman does the same job as a man and has been doing so for an equal length of time, she gets paid the same. That's the law and that's how it happens. This imaginary 22% pay gap is based on the fact that a lot of women do lower paid jobs.
At the risk of sounding stereotypical, how many more women do hair and beauty work than men? How many more women do secretarial / admin / restaurant / call centre work than men? These jobs all tend to be at the lower end of the wage scale and are female dominated.
What about the male dominated jobs? Engineering, mechanics, construction, haulage. These are usually at the higher end of the pay scale because they require specialist skills, are dirty with unsociable hours and are often undertaken in adverse conditions.
Are these jobs male dominated because women are barred from entering those fields? No. They just don't want to. The few that do, succeed, providing they are willing to put in the same effort as their male counterparts.
What about the areas that tend to have a fifty fifty mix? Retail, banking, accountancy, etc. Where the fifty fifty mix exists, men and women get paid the same for the same job. The higher up the pay grade you go, the less women there are. Once you get into boardrooms, directors, CEOs etc, the number of women drops off rapidly. Is that because its all jobs for the boys and women are not allowed? No. In order to get into those positions, you have to sacrifice most of your personal life. You have to spend years working fifteen hour days. It's long and hard.
How many women are willing to do that? Some, granted but not a lot. (Most) women aren't driven by the need to acquire money and power. They are driven by the more maternal instincts. That isn't a sexist generalisation, it's a simple fact of life. For example, I mentioned Hair and restaurant work as two of the more female dominated positions, yet the best chefs and the best celebrity make up artists in the world are men.

In order to remove the 22% pay gap you would have to pay all the women in the lower paid jobs, more than the men. You would also have to reduce the pay in all the male dominated positions. I'm sure this option is fine for the lefty socialists out there but it isn't right.

If you really want to find out what the gender pay gap is, you can't look at average male and female wages as a whole, you have to do it by individual employment areas. You also need to factor in length of service and performance. Once done, I'm sure you will discover that the gender pay gap is actually 0%
The WNC took on many of the real issues, from the continuing problem of violence against women, to the lack of women in key jobs, and was relentless at insisting on the importance of a female perspective in policymaking. This is as urgent as ever. Some of the issues have changed – so-called honour killings, the increasing number of trafficked women and violent porn on the internet were not big British controversies back then.
These are not issues for a publicly funded lobby group to be getting involved in. Violence against women, Honour killings, trafficked women, violent porn (non consensual) are crimes. We have the police to investigate crimes. They don't need another "partner agency" to help them. They are aware of the issues and how to deal with them.
As for women in key jobs, if they want to be in key jobs and are willing to make the sacrifices necessary, then they will get there. If they want to be part of policy making they will also get there. Look at Harriet....... no, bad example, we could do without any more of her kind.
Other issues are much the same. Castle was a rare figure in the Labour cabinet, able to use her position to help women. And how is it now, in today's government? There are just four women cabinet ministers. One is very junior, and comes from the Lords. One is Welsh secretary. As home secretary, Theresa May has some clout, but not on economic issues. Ditto Caroline Spelman at environment. The sole female minister with an economic portfolio is the relatively junior Justine Greening. The big spending review battles, affecting the budgets, families and opportunities of millions of women, were fought out by David, George, Nick, Danny, Iain, Kenneth, Andrew, Michael and Vince.
I would have thought that in the highest levels of government, we really need to be appointing people who are capable of doing the job asked of them, regardless of gender.
The WNC was not a feminist campaigning body. It was an equality body, its 670 partners included all sorts of groups, many of them so far outside the charmed circle of political power that they would be otherwise unseen and unheard. Outside party politics, the WNC's job was to warn, advise, inform governments about people, problems, perspectives that wouldn't normally be noticed in the din of political lobbying.
Without that kind of voice, I strongly suspect the coalition will make plenty of mistakes it could have avoided. No doubt it will manage without the commission, with new ministers barely aware of its passing. Yet it can't be right that spending decisions should be taken mainly on the basis of who shouts the loudest – from the army generals to the rightwing bloggers. There are plenty of older, poorer, time-pressured women out there whose voices will now be excluded from the national debate.
For the last thirteen years, spending policy has been made by shouty campaign groups and shouty media. Spending policy should be dictated by what is necessary, bearing in mind where the money comes from. Lobby groups for women's issues are not necessary. You're equal already. Get over it.

A more equally balanced Labour team ought to be faster to pick up the huge social and family issues being thrown up in the coalition cuts. In local government, environment, equality issues, energy, public spending, sport and the law, women now speak for Labour. Far from it being a blunder, it will make Labour seem modern, practical and relevant. It will be for these Labour women to pick up where the WNC left off – but I still think it is one quango that should have been spared the flames.

Of course you do. The fact is, no QUANGO should be spared the flames. Whatever you personal hobbyhorse, the country is broke. The Government needs to scale way the hell back and all NGO's that rely on public money need to go.

2 Comments:

Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...

Bucko said...