Man up, and tell us how much you earn
- Credit: PA
Almost 50 years after the Equal Pay Act, rampant inequality is still the norm. It's time it ended, says Rachel Moore.
Tweet of the week – the shard-sharp response of Women's Equality Party founder Sophie Walker to Piers Morgan after he chided her for missing a slot on Good Morning Britain because of illness.
'Man up, Walker!' Morgan tweeted to her.
'Will I get paid twice as much if I do?' she came back. Pure gold.
Why aren't we more outraged that, nearly 50 years after the Equal Pay Act in 1970, women are still earning less – a lot less – than men doing exactly the same job?
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We're celebrating 100 years since some women won the vote and still women are viewed to be not worth as much as men.
As the BBC shoots itself in the foot again – how patronising for its male stars to deign to take a pay cut in solidarity with the more poorly-paid women, with John Humphreys' salary dropping to about £250,000 – the rumpus misses the point.
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It's not about figures or salary caps; it's about fairness, a salary awarded for talent, responsibility and performance, not for gender.
I hesitate to use the word equality. Its mere utterance inflames any argument with men – and some women – rolling their eyes, as if to say 'here comes the hysteria, the ranting and the preaching.' Feminism, which is, after all about fairness, is still viewed as something to fear.
The fact that the public row is centred on TV luvvie-land salary disparity about annual incomes most people can only dream of doesn't help to chime with the people the pay unfairness really affects, the women all over the country in factories, offices, shop floors – many earning below the average national wage – being paid less for doing the same job as the man next to them.
And we wonder why women struggle with their self-worth.
Systemic discrimination is real. If it's happening at the BBC, what on earth is going on everywhere else? I bet Theresa May's salary isn't lower than David Cameron's was.
If the BBC row achieves one thing, it should be to encourage women everywhere to start talking about money in the workplace.
Women, in particular, are reluctant to talk about what they earn because they lack confidence.
But only by asking their male peers what are paid and starting an open conversation about the comparison, will a scandal that has been allowed to happen for years might start being addressed.
What are girls and young women, brought up out-performing boys in the exam halls, told they can do whatever they choose as well as and even better than men, thinking?
That what they've been told is a load of old baloney? They might be just as good engineers, chemists, performers, physiotherapists, lawyers, accountants, estate agents and anything else as men, but they're not guaranteed to earn as much.
There remains that archaic view, subconscious and outrageous it may be, that a woman's wage is a 'second wage.' She doesn't need to be as much as the 'breadwinner' so her money doesn't matter as much.
And, in workplaces around the country, older women are the real victims of a gender pay gap, those over 55 brought up not to talk about money and now too scared to rock the boat in case they end up first out of the door. Pension-poor, they need to carry on working but more than suspect they are earning far less than their male counterparts for exactly the same job.
The BBC should be leading the way, but arguing about salaries in multiples of £50,000 is all too far removed, luvvy and avocado on toast and pomegranate juice, to connect with ordinary women everywhere.
But it is the red flag and they must ask the question now. To men in every workplace in the country. What do you earn?
Only by losing the very British reluctance to discuss money will fairness be achieved.