Well. What do you know? Women who are mothers get paid even less than men.
In yet another report from the Laboratories of the Blindingly Obvious, we do at least get a name for that thing that most of us knew what was happening – it’s a gender pay gap.
It doesn’t mean that women are paid less per hour for doing the same thing as men, it means that women earn less per hour than men in general. Women, who are just as intelligent and well-qualified as their equivalent blokes, earn less – often because they are further down the corporate ladder and they have less responsibility. And that’s just the very problem.
I’ve written about it before. Gender Pay Gap (let’s give it capitals) is the amalgamation of smaller things that adds up to falling short of our potential because of our gender. It’s not really about the money, that’s just how it gets measured.
Here’s what I know about it:
You don’t get a crystal ball free with the positive pregnancy test.
Clearly, the choice to have children is an individual one. It’s based on hormones, optimism, a certain view of life, popular culture and a bunch of other things.
You choose to chuck away your birth control pills with the knowledge that you’re going to love and support your tiny potential offspring, come what may. At first, naively, the come what may might appear to be chicken pox or sleepless nights.
It’s only later that you see that chicken pox and broken sleep were the easy bits, your come what may might include single parenthood, redundancy, looking after a special needs child, bereavement, multiple births, poverty, caring for others, mental illness and anything else from a long colour chart of shades of shit.
So to those of you who (perhaps wisely, who knows?) are childless by choice, of course, it was my decision, but you can’t hold that against me. It would be a bit like saying to your divorcing friend: “Stop moaning, if you didn’t want a divorce, you shouldn’t have got married in the first place.”
So you made a tiny person, you must – obviously – have become Wonderwoman in the process, not just mum.
This is bollocks. Mothers don’t any special abilities, yet they are expected to.
There isn’t time today to investigate the reasons why she’s up there, but what’s important is getting mother down from her pedestal, quick.
Stop judging mothers who do things differently to you and understand that, in the main, whatever their choices, the kids will be fine.
Mums themselves must stop trying to be perfect and to get their kid’s (or kids’) other parent (or parents) to pull their weight – and I don’t just mean the occasional school run. I mean shoulder the burden of getting to the childminder on time, of not going to conferences because it’s parents’ night, responsibility, that kind of thing.
Mums need to support dads in this by not rolling their eyes and muttering “men” the minute an unnecessarily high standard isn’t met.
Workplaces must make it easier and more accepted for men and women to be parents. Next time a male colleague announces his dad-dom, ask him how he’s going to juggle the childcare. See what happens.
And while we’re at it, let’s kill Super Keen Employee too. Of course, you must do your best and go the extra mile, but regularly working long hours and not taking holidays doesn’t make you a winner, it makes you a mug. If you can’t stop, at least don’t give the parents that look when they rush out to do the school run.
You don’t need to love my kids, but someone does.
I don’t care about your children and you don’t care about mine. That’s fine. But I do care that we can bring our kids up in happy healthy homes where we’ve all got enough of what we need plus the chance to use our talents and do something fulfilling.
We have legislation to protect women’s wages, but what we need now is a change in culture that really wants to find a way to help parents – and their colleagues – deal with the kids and stops pitting us all against each other.
Wouldn’t it be good if the Gender Pay Gap closed because more women can come back to careers that look like the ones they left and because more men are earning less because they’ve taken the career breaks instead of the women?