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Statistical gender bending

Mark Easton | 17:54 UK time, Friday, 7 August 2009

Harriet Harman's office is in trouble with the statistics watchdog again.

wwc.gifAfter ticking off the equality minister in June for using a figure which "risks giving a misleading quantification of the gender pay gap", the UK Statistics Authority is more than a little perturbed that a quango based in her office - the Women and Work Commission - went ahead and published the figure again just a few weeks later. The number was quoted across the British media - including the BBC.

The figure in question is 22.6 - the percentage that Ms Harman's department likes to suggest is the difference between the earnings of men and women. But the head of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir Michael Scholar, told the Government Equalities Office on 11 June that the figure should not be used, because to do so "may undermine public trust in official statistics".

Imagine his reaction, therefore, when he went to the GEO website on 29 July and saw what they had published [334Kb PDF].

There, clear as day on page five, in the foreword written by commission chair Baroness Prosser, is this:

Women are still paid, on average, 22.6 per cent less per hour than men. Although this has fallen from 27.5 per cent over the last 10 years we are noticing that progress is stalling, and the number has even risen slightly since 2007, when it was 21.9 per cent. This is also the case for the full-time gender pay gap, which stood at 12.5 per cent in 2007 but is now 12.8 per cent. Pay gaps are even greater for part-time workers (39.9 per cent). This is important, as 41 per cent of women work part time compared with just 12 per cent of men, and women make up more than three-quarters of the part-time workforce

When Sir Michael finished reading the offending paragraph, he had another bone to pick with Ms Harman's department: namely, the figure of 39.9% cited as the pay gap for part-time workers.

In a letter sent to Baroness Prosser at the GEO today, he points out that the document "does not explain what this is a measure of". However, he assumes that this must be another figure his authority red-flagged in June - "39.9 per cent appears to be a measure of the difference between the median hourly earnings of part-time women compared with full-time men".

This is apples and oranges statistics - comparing the pay rates of women who work part-time with men who work full-time in order, cynics might assume, to achieve a really big number.

Back in June, Sir Michael told Harriet Harman that "such a comparison needs particularly careful presentation and justification if it is not to mislead".

Today, he told Baroness Prosser that he was "disappointed that it should have appeared in the Foreword to Shaping the Future without any explanation".

Sir Michael makes the point that the story of part-time pay looks very different if one compares like with like:

"The casual reader would be surprised to learn then that median hourly earnings of women and of men (excluding overtime) are very close, with women's median pay actually being slightly higher than men's (by 3.4 per cent)."

Yes, that's right. If you compare part-time women with part-time men, women get paid slightly more. This fact, needless to say, is not found anywhere in Shaping A Fairer Future.

Reading that offending paragraph again, one could be forgiven for thinking it is an attempt to make matters appear worse than they really are. As Sir Michael puts it in his letter:

"It would be an easy mistake for a casual reader to conclude from the Foreword that if the overall gender pay gap stands at 22.6 per cent and the full-time gender pay gap stands at 12.8 per cent, then the part-time gender pay gap must be considerably greater than 22.6 per cent. Indeed, the Foreword appears to confirm just such a conclusion when it states that 'pay gaps are even greater for part-time workers (39.9 per cent)'."

I am awaiting a response from the Government Equalities Office. In the meantime, this is what they said last time a letter from Sir Michael dropped on the departmental doormat:

"The 23% gender pay gap figure used by the Government Equalities Office includes both full and part-time employees. With women representing over three-quarters of the UK's part-time workforce, we believe this figure gives the fullest picture of the country's gender pay gap."

Update: In a statement this evening, the government said:

"The WWC is an independent body, and the way they chose to measure the gender pay gap in their report is a matter for them. "The 22.6% gender pay gap figure used in the report is also used by the Government and includes both full and part-time employees. "With 41.9% of women working part-time, and women representing over three-quarters of the UK's part-time workforce, we believe this figure gives the fullest picture of the country's gender pay gap. "As Sir Michael's letter makes clear, GEO has discussed this issue with ONS and the National Statistician has agreed to look at the way the gender pay gap is presented in ONS statistical bulletins."


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  • 1. At 6:12pm on 07 Aug 2009, delminister wrote:

    her office has a point but to juggle the figures just to exploit the point is so typical of both genders of this government.
    it shows that manipulation has no gender gap and trying to fool the population is just the same, this MP and her office need to learn from this and either quit or appologise.

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  • 2. At 6:20pm on 07 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Not only are women underpaid, I would say that they also take on the majority of household work. ie. cleaning,babysitting,grocery shopping,gardening too.

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  • 3. At 6:22pm on 07 Aug 2009, Secratariat wrote:

    There are lies, damned lies and New Labour statistics...

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  • 4. At 6:27pm on 07 Aug 2009, archoptimist wrote:

    Lies, damned lies and statistics. Is anybody really surprised? Like her fellow ministers, Ms Harman still hasn't realised that the harder you push when you can't see the road ahead, the more likely you are to fall flat on your face. Hattie has been hyper while the boss has been away, generating more heat than light..doing her cause more harm then good. Time for a holiday, I think.

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  • 5. At 6:27pm on 07 Aug 2009, Forlornehope wrote:

    It is worth noting that for those under 40, single and without children, women are paid slightly more than men. This does rather demolish the argument that careers advisors are pointing girls in the wrong direction!

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  • 6. At 6:50pm on 07 Aug 2009, expatinnetherlands wrote:

    I hate this type of deception... abuse of the presentation of statistics.
    NuLab and Harriet Harman are very guilty of this, and, in my opinion, not to be trusted.

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  • 7. At 9:02pm on 07 Aug 2009, sweetsmellofsuccess wrote:

    Given that Ms Harman had used this totally junk figure before, and been called on it by Sir Michael, the question should be:

    Why didn't all of the media immediately jump on the statistic and denounce it for the misleading garbage it is?

    There is a very real story to tell about inequality of opportunity, but using statistical fakery in this way merely obscures the real issues, and invites false conclusions and incorrect policies.

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  • 8. At 10:17pm on 07 Aug 2009, MK_Steve wrote:

    Thanks Mark; it's about time this particular social manipulation was exposed. I've seen no evidence that like-for-like women earn less. There are laws in place to take proceedings on the basis of gender pay discrimination, and it's interesting that given the size (22.6%) of this problem, it is not reflected in the courts, and everyone struggles to find water-tight actual examples of this 'obvious' discrimination.

    The data used are too 'noisey' to interpret the stats in the way that has been done, for hundreds of reasons, including the part-time issue identified.

    To sort this out we need 'clean' research such as: take 5000 randomly selected pairs of men and women in identical jobs, and matched on experience, qualifications, age, hours worked etc and then calculate the mean difference in earnings per hour between the 5000 men and 5000 women. I bet the figure is about zero (not 22.6). I would challenge any woman academic / PhD student to take on such a study.. or indeed for Harriet Harman to commision such a study... if the result was 26% then I'll be happy to be proved wrong, and will support Harman's principles.

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  • 9. At 05:58am on 08 Aug 2009, harrietharmman wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 10. At 09:27am on 08 Aug 2009, jon112uk wrote:

    Government comment (bottom of article) "...women represent over three-quarters of the UK's part-time workforce..."

    Mmmm. That's quite consistent with what I've seen in several large state controlled organisations I've worked for. Although thousands of people (male and female) are unemployed locally these big state controlled employers have all female cleaning/domestic workforces. Several hundred employees, not a single one of which is male.

    The organisation then publishes dodgy figures showing that 'average female earnings' are lower than male. Obviously: if you operate a policy of excluding men from hundreds of lower paid posts then the average income of the women will be lower.

    Perhaps hariet harman should do something to combat this 'inequality' by ensuring that unemployed men have equal access to tens of thousands of state controlled part time jobs which are currently filled entirely by women.

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  • 11. At 11:05am on 08 Aug 2009, killary45 wrote:

    Thank you very much for this blog.

    I have not heard anyone on the BBC make this point, so unless I have missed it I wonder why it has not been on the news. It is a good story and should have been given prominence. The government should know that it cannot get away with abusing statistics.

    The BBC News website still has the original story as presented by Harman on 29th July - has this been corrected anywhere apart from tucked away on a blog only to be seen by a select few?

    "Today" had a feature about these statistics which is still available, it quotes the findings as if they were meaningful and important. Surely the editor of that programme would want to feature the opinion of Sir Michael Scholar that the statistics upon which the story was based were totally misleading. Or would that not fit with the Today agenda?

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  • 12. At 1:42pm on 08 Aug 2009, SSnotbanned wrote:

    Who am I ? SSnotbanned,you or me ?
    Given Harriet's recent comment on men-only clubs making a mess of things,I presume she would also think men are overpaid whilst women are correctly paid.

    Is there statistics on women-bossed companies ?
    Do they pay men 22.6% more on average than their women employees ??

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  • 13. At 2:06pm on 09 Aug 2009, Ralph124C41plus wrote:

    I'm new here so I apologise if this question has already been answered.
    If women are cheaper to employ than men, how do men get jobs?

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  • 14. At 4:26pm on 09 Aug 2009, mradam_abels wrote:

    Warren Farrell asked the same question: If women are making 76 cents to a man's dollar then why is any sane businessman hiring men?
    He wound up writing a book that answered the question; Why Men Earn More. In spite of the title it's actually a handbook for women who want to earn more. Not at all incidentally, the book disposes of a lot of phony job comparison numbers.
    People who abuse statistics should be hanged.
    In effigy of course: False numbers = false hanging.
    However if they can show they did it out of mere ignorance, perhaps virtual flogging would be adequate.
    If you will excused a mangled metaphor-- I have found that if you give radical feminists enough rope they'll shoot themselves in the foot.
    And Ms Harman is locked and loaded.

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  • 15. At 11:23pm on 09 Aug 2009, tarquin wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 16. At 01:41am on 10 Aug 2009, tarquin wrote:

    oh yay, some drone is referring any anti-government comments to the mods...

    way to engage in free debate about government policy...I now swallow the party line:

    'Women are paid 40% less, because they are women - they are discriminated against and kept down by every single man!! 40%!!'

    I feel so enlightened...

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  • 17. At 09:16am on 10 Aug 2009, tarquin wrote:

    I shall attempt to repost my apparently offensive entry, just so it doesn't look like I actually wrote anything offensive

    Shout it from the rooftops, Mark

    Those figures were blatantly misleading (again) - why do they feel the need to make it 39.9%?

    I love how it says: 'pay gaps are even greater for part time workers (39.9%)'

    This implies female part-timers earn 40% less than males - despite the fact that in part-time work women earn 3% more - so they compare it to full-time work...

    They'd have a better case if they said it was discrimination that more women worked part-time rather than twisting the figures to promote their own agenda - there is no point even considering Harman's ideas when she is engaging in such manipulation

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  • 18. At 11:37am on 10 Aug 2009, cping500 wrote:

    Here we ago again. ALL those involved (including ONS)in this should be ashamed of themselves since the basic statistics for these comparisons are for most purposes useless and silly if you want to ask are people fairly paid. Fair pay means that people doing similar job (technically jobs of equal value) in a GIVEN organisation should be paid on the same pay scale and have the same benefits.
    In some countries 60 years ago (The Netherlands was one of them and the Soviet Union another), there was national scheme to evaluate all jobs for this purpose. Do we want this which is probably the only way of securing fair 'equal pay' between the genders nationally?
    In any case most people are paid less than the average wage for their group reported in the stats. I'm sure Michael Blastland on the BBC News Magazine pages will help editors sort this out!

    Fianlly All three parties are committed to fair pay and there is no politics here only daft stats whatever the nucon attack dogs say.

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  • 19. At 11:52am on 10 Aug 2009, Isenhorn wrote:

    I have often wondered where this information on the 'gender gap' comes from. In all the companies I have worked for, the positions were advertised with the salary attached to them, and the same amount was paid afterwards regardless of the fact whether a male or a female was recruited. In fact, in my last job my female co-workers were paid significantly more due to the increment attached to years spent with the company. So for the same job, the same level and the same amount of work I received less money. There was a 'gender gap' but not the one the government is supposedly trying to eradicate.

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  • 20. At 12:15pm on 10 Aug 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    expatinthenetherlands and #6.

    re, "..NuLab and Harroet Harmon very guilty of this and are not to be trusted.."

    Whereas, Callaghan and Healey' 'run-on-pind statistics', Thatcher's 'unemployment statistics', Major and Lamont's 'ERM statistics' and the present entire Westminster Palace 650 MPs 'Expenses statistics' make them all so trustworthy!?

    Come on now! Brown - Cameron - Clegg etc. they are all a bunch of con-artists.

    If you can point to any single worthwhile and RELIABLE Government Statistic on EU-Budgets-Contributions-Directives / Crime / Immigration / Employment / Financial services / Taxation / Welfare services / etc. or REFORM of Parliament inspired by any of the deviants Elected from the UK Constituencies since about Heath's brief Premiership I am sure we would all be pleased to read it.

    The UK Public through its careless uninvolvement in the 'democratic' Political Process over the last 30 to 40 years has ended up with entirely the type of Government and HM 'Loyal Opposdition' it deserves: A bunch of low-life, no-marks with as much regard for Public Opionion and Public interests as the worst sort of 'banana republic'.

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  • 21. At 12:15pm on 10 Aug 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 22. At 12:17pm on 10 Aug 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 23. At 12:18pm on 10 Aug 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 24. At 12:23pm on 10 Aug 2009, David wrote:

    Harriet Harman.

    Either a liar, or incompetent. Either way, not exactly fit to be Government Minister.

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  • 25. At 1:19pm on 10 Aug 2009, pandatank wrote:

    Just because I can't physically have babies doesn't mean I shouldn't have the right to have babies and live off my husband or the state, does it?
    The only group your legally allowed to discriminate against is men. You hear it, see it and experience it every day. The "men" that are looked on in this way are generally the "old boys club". But lumping ALL men of different classes, socio-economic groups and ethnicities into the category of "the oppressor" and accepting that as fact, is surely the worst discriminatory stereotype existing in UK society today.
    Oh, and Harpersons recent comments and misuse of statistics are typical of this Govts. attempts to micro-manage every aspect of our lives. The whole "it's scientific fact, honestly Terrence" approach is slightly more sophisticated than sponsoring a £multi-million enquiry and then deciding I know better than a committee of eminent scientists and even the recommendations of enforcement officers

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  • 26. At 1:28pm on 10 Aug 2009, cping500 wrote:

    Isenhorn (19) your problem about not being paid less than longer serving (female) workers is one of age discrimination. It is Peter Mandelson and the Csarsina for Age, Dame Joan Bakewell who deals with this area. In principle age and length of service pay scales are probably unlawful in themselves but there are ways of fixing that.
    In general the gender gap arises because pay is not 'fair' between organisations (indeed you can arrange companies to benefit from this situation.) But more it stems generally because women have unequal access to jobs by reason of child bearing, the gendering of jobs (eg cricket)(changing rapidly), discrimination both direct and indirect.), some would argue 'men's and womens talent are different' and of course women's choices, culturally determined for the most part. In my mothers generation men were expected to be bread winners and women to manage family life, and if they did work it was for 'pin money' Those days are long gone but the culture is still available Children are probably a major factor because limits career opportunities for women without child care. Most people will be aware of the steps the Government have take to alleviate these factors
    Maybe the answer is "More house husbands please..." or something like that (Mr Jacki Smith?) Note even Mrs Obama gave up her job! but Cheire Blair did not and advanced her career.

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  • 27. At 1:56pm on 10 Aug 2009, Alan-Fresco wrote:

    It seems that the Government has decided on the answer "there is a gender gap substantially in favour of men" and then sought to justify it by the dishonest presentation of statistics. We all know that 87% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

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  • 28. At 2:46pm on 10 Aug 2009, Alan-Fresco wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 29. At 2:52pm on 10 Aug 2009, Secratariat wrote:

    cping500 wrote:
    In my mothers generation men were expected to be bread winners and women to manage family life.

    That's a popular misconception and one I think I'd change too:
    In my mothers generation men were expected to be bread winners and women to manage family life in middle & upper class families.

    My grandmothers worked all of their adult lives (except for a few months out when having children), as did my great-grandmothers. They weren't working for "pin money" either, they were working to make sure they & their husbands had enough money to provide a home, food & clothes for their families.
    The idea of a stay at home mother is restricted only to those families that could afford it, for millions of other families the women were out working most of their lives.
    Throughout the 18th, 19th & early 20th century millions of women were working in factories, on farms and in many other industries too and it wouldn't be unusual to see women working the land with a baby slung over her back.

    The idea that women stayed at home while men went out to work was popularised during WWII when middle & upper class women were suddenly expected to join the land army or work in factories for the war effort, in reality the majority of women had always been out at work. The only real change has been for the upper & middle classes where women have chosen to start working since the Suffragette movement allowed them to take an equal place in society instead of being pretty little things that stayed at home looking after their husbands & families.

    There's lots of information available about this subject, the links below have plenty of information to be getting started with.

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  • 30. At 3:26pm on 10 Aug 2009, harrietharmman wrote:

    Looks like I've been censored too.

    Quite clever really - get the comment censored when everyone is here wanting to read it, then everyone has gone elsehwhere by the time the bbc have got round to making a decision about it really should be deleted or not, thus no one ever really sees the comment either way.

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  • 31. At 3:39pm on 10 Aug 2009, Alan-Fresco wrote:

    I saw a statistic once - it was 46 out of 83, I just can't remember what it was about, perhaps the Government might want to use that one.

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  • 32. At 4:14pm on 10 Aug 2009, Whistling Neil wrote:

    you should get back to your job and correct the misleading statistics your department and quangos are putting out.

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  • 33. At 4:24pm on 10 Aug 2009, charliekelley wrote:

    Yet another media attack against Harriet Harman...what a suprise! She's been so busy running the country last week, she didn't have time to personally correct some typos that came out in a report produced by a quango that resides in her department. Give the woman a break! Male politicians have been glossing over the statistics for years - do they get this level of no! So big deal, you think the story should be that women working part-time earn ever so slightly more than men working part time...could that be because they are far more likely to be working in part time jobs due to domestic responsibilities and also likely to stay in those jobs for a longer amount of time because they have no alternatives, hence they get the small incremental pay increases each year? The problem is how many higher level jobs do you see advertised on a part-time or job share basis, answer: not many. That would make a better basis for a story, rather than bashing yet again a female politician who is not just pulling the ladder up with her when she gets to the next level.

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  • 34. At 4:43pm on 10 Aug 2009, Woolfbane wrote:

    Surely the only meaningful statistic here would be a comparison between male and female pay per hour? Since there are part-time workers of both sexes and male and female workers across the spectrum of job seniority, rather than trying to compare a part-time solicitor with a full-time traffic warden would it not be easier to show the pay per hour as average, median, mean, by region/industry sector or on a sliding scale by age group? I think it would still show that women earn less, but I could be wrong!

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  • 35. At 4:48pm on 10 Aug 2009, Peter Galbavy wrote:

    Did you know that 40% of all sickness absence occurs on Mondays and Fridays ? Surely employers should be coming down much harder on this gross abuse of people taking long weekends!

    (There is a rather large dose of sarcasm in there in case anyone thinks I am being serious...)

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  • 36. At 5:50pm on 10 Aug 2009, stanilic wrote:

    The Women and Work Commission is a name to play with. Sounds very bluestocking as Secretariat above might agree.

    In that context I was talking this morning about two of my great grandmothers who came from different ends of town but both had to work hard as both were widowed young. One was fortunate and took on her husband's business and succeeded whilst the other worked successfully within the sweated labour system to keep the wolf from the door. Needless to say their children were all grafters as well.

    I feel this male-female thing is just another example of divide and rule. Men and women need work; the work ought to be good quality but these days you have to take what you can get. I fear Mrs H is banging a busted drum.

    Anyway within the Women and Work Commission who does the washing up?

    Now Harriet, love, us men are busy discussing women's rights so be a good girl and go and put the kettle on. Only joking.......

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  • 37. At 6:02pm on 10 Aug 2009, Whistling Neil wrote:


    Harman deserves all that she gets, she is party to deliberate misuse of statistics to try to make out there is a wrong needing to be righted except the figures suggest that the wrong does not actually exist anymore in a significant fashion.
    The minister for equality is not able to get it into her thick skull that the job is about enabling equality of opportunity and not equality of outcome.
    By using what are dubious stats in the first place to suggest there is a huge disparity between what men and women are paid for the precisely the same work is patently wrong. It is at odds with the vast majorities of people experience of the modern working world. We are not in the 50's, 60's and 70's now but the lag from the bad old days where such blatant inequality was the norm will take time to work out of the system. It is very much most peoples experience that women entering the workplace now are paid at equal levels based on their skills and merits.

    The legislations which offset the biological differences between men and women are already in place and well used as they should be.

    Children are a life choice, the family has to take responsibility for the changes to their lives they will make. Families often have to decide whether to move or not for career progression or other reasons which will cause more effect on their potential career ladder and earnings.
    If women chose to stay at home for a few years then this will have an effect on their career progression - comparing a woman (or man for that matter) who has stayed home with a peer who has not will unsurprisingly give a difference in pay at same age - since experience is not equivalent.

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  • 38. At 6:51pm on 10 Aug 2009, MartinW_1 wrote:

    > Yet another media attack against Harriet
    > Harman...what a suprise! She's been so busy
    > running the country last week, she didn't
    > have time to personally correct some typos
    > that came out in a report produced by a
    > quango that resides in her department.

    Don't be an idiot. The figures are not "typos" - they are deliberate falsifications. Try reading Mark Easton's note. She and her department have peddled these figures before and were told then that they are misleading. Now she and her department have repeated the offence and again been told that the figures are misleading. If the misleading figures had been "typos" then she would have issued a correction, but she didn't. Instead she sought to claim that obviously incorrect figures are valid. She's lying. Deliberately.

    > Male politicians have been glossing over the
    > statistics for years - do they get this level of
    > interrogation

    Yes. When they lie they get called on it. Harman thinks that as a woman she can tell any self-serving fabrication that she likes with impunity. Judging by your reaction, she is right.

    > no!

    .. er yes!

    > So big deal, you think the story should be that
    > women working part-time earn ever so slightly
    > more than men working part time...

    Unlike Harman's version, that one is actually true. Now why would you sneer at running a story that is true?

    However, no, that is not the story to run. The real story is that a senior government minister and her department are persistently stating falsehoods and continue to do so even after those falsehoods have been publicly exposed. There might even be a story about why so much of the mainstream media mindlessly reports Harman's claims even when they know them to be false.

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  • 39. At 8:42pm on 10 Aug 2009, Peter Hood wrote:

    Manipulating data to suit a political agenda is a crime and should be treated as such. Any government that acts as though it has a monopoly on truth - which is, in truth, the possession of no individual, organisation, group, ideology or gender - is moving toward the same sort of status of Eastern European countries of the Warsaw Pact or, worse still, Stalinism or Hitlerism. I cite in favour of this argument the excuse for waging war on Iraq, the lack of corroborating evidence (a must in both intelligence and legal circles, as the Labour crew know, being significantly comprised of lawyers), and Harriet Harman's status as strongly voting for the war and strongly voting against an enquiry.

    That the Labour government inflict this kind of mendacity on us, after all of the other indignities that are and have been aired, indicates to me that a change of government is very much in order. The question this time around is not "Who governs", but who can govern in place of them? Oh, and "Can Labour win?", which texts were the order of the day when I studied philosophy and politics the year after one Phil Woolas, former Welfare Officer at Manchester who seems either not to have learned very much when dealing with British soldiers, or to have had his arm twisted by members of the very cabinet which, in a time of war, ranks the Defence member of cabinet 23rd.

    Maybe it will be 17 years again this time around, because Harman's behaviour sounds screechingly reminiscent of the "longest suicide note in history".

    Despicable. Mendacious. Liars, even.

    I don't think that I have anything more to say, except good bye to them.

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  • 40. At 9:06pm on 10 Aug 2009, virtualsilverlady wrote:

    Incredible! Are they trying to say that men get a bigger minimum wage than women? That's new to me and most of the majority who have to work for minimum wage.

    I think M/s Harman must be talking about the higher earners in which case I don't think too many people are too bothered.

    She is so out of touch with the ordinary people.

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  • 41. At 02:13am on 11 Aug 2009, tarquin wrote:

    33 charliekelley

    Others have already dealt with your points effectively, so I won't

    All I will say is that it is typical of Harman's defenders (whether a Labour activist or a real person) to view it as an 'attack' on her - it is no such thing

    She is separated from the pack by her feminist agenda - no other politician (brown, straw, johnson, mandelson) is interested, so she is alone in pushing this policy, which is naturally unpopular

    Furthermore all government politicians are attacked individually for their policies - Brown, Straw, Smith, Reid, Mandelson have all had unpopular ideas - Harman is the very embodiment of that, doggedly pursuing her unpopular ideas that many people see as wrong - but we are not allowed to attack her rather exceptional policies because it's 'sexist'

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  • 42. At 04:49am on 11 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Dear Alan-Fresco
    Wrong! I'm not that bad. Men seem to do a lot more today than in previous generations and English men maybe do even more than American men. I'm just noting that the work load doesn't seem fair. Women are underpaid in America and they also do the majority of housework too. Where's the fairness in paying half the household bills and doing the majority of household work?

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  • 43. At 08:57am on 11 Aug 2009, Eviscera wrote:

    It's all very well misrepresenting the statistics, but what does it achieve? So far it only seems to have made people decide there are no issues with inequality and not to look into why so many part time workers are female, or indeed why those workers are paid more than their male counterparts.

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  • 44. At 10:22am on 11 Aug 2009, Knickas wrote:

    Speaking as a woman, I have never found any discrepancies in pay. Men and women have equal pay for equal jobs - which is what we fought for.
    I work for the NHS, and it is particularly heavy in higher management women. If women (as a whole) are earning less then men, it is not through lack of opportunity - they are there, but through choice. My children are almost grown and my career is only now just taking off. It was there - waiting for ME to take it on. I have no fears for my daughters earning powers, if they choose, they will do just fine. I am more concerned for my son. I think it is the majority of boys who we should worry about now - they are the ones who need a leg up!

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  • 45. At 10:24am on 11 Aug 2009, Alan-Fresco wrote:

    Serial 42

    Only joking Joan (a rant in the style of Monty Python) maybe it's different in America. I am British living in Holland (family back in UK) I have to (it is a pleasure to do so) fund the family (serving Officer) and maintain the Dutch House. I don't always iron my casual shirts. On the subject of pay, I get exactly the same as a female of the same rank and seniority.

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  • 46. At 11:13am on 11 Aug 2009, Rustigjongens wrote:

    I am just reading the BBC World News, the following is one of the headlines...

    Women dominate 'high status' jobs.

    More women then men now work in high status professions, research from the University of Cambridge has shown.

    The changin nature of women's work and better education had led to a "quiet revolution in the workplace". the study of 300 occupations found.

    UK women are pulling ahead of men in professions such as medicine and law. the researchers noted.

    Now lets wait for Harriet to spin her way out of this latest evidence that shows how wrong her bizzare claims really are.

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  • 47. At 12:46pm on 11 Aug 2009, OhRogan wrote:

    Sir Michael Scholar, told the Government Equalities Office on 11 June that the figure should not be used, because to do so "may undermine public trust in official statistics".

    What trust? Anyone who understands maths, knows the underhand methods the government and BBC use to direct the public away from the truth of a situation.

    I've always believed that raw statistical data shold be available to the public on an statistics quoted with numbers of sample data and standard deviation given out at all times.

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  • 48. At 4:02pm on 11 Aug 2009, UselessBrain wrote:

    I feel that a vital point has been missed; asking Ms Harman to coordinate findings in sex equality is going to be rather like asking Nick Griffin to chair an investigation on immigration!

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  • 49. At 6:36pm on 11 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Dear Alan-Fresco
    Fair is fair. If you're paying all the household bills and your wife is doing all the household work then that seems like a fair exchange to me. It's just that this arrangement seems more and more difficult today as the wife's income is needed today to keep the family afloat. I think English males are a different breed of men because they seem much more involved with day to day domestic activities like shopping etc. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe American men do more of these things now. Is the fact that you work in the military the reason why you're paid equally?
    Also someone mentioned that women are far surpassing men in the workplace. I think that's because men aren't graduating from college in the same numbers as before.
    I enjoyed your creative, funny poem on the other blog.

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  • 50. At 6:52pm on 11 Aug 2009, jones_gone wrote:

    After payments of child benefits and child tax credits to (almost exclusively) women are taken into account, they will end up on higher salaries than single childless men, who statistics have shown are the real losers under this government.

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  • 51. At 7:47pm on 11 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    Dear Wales_Wails,
    Men shouldn't resent paying child support and the tax savings women get from it. Child support is for children. It's not a freebie to the mother. In the absence of a father to help, the money is needed for children's upkeep. Children are really expensive. Don't resent women for that.

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  • 52. At 03:27am on 12 Aug 2009, tarquin wrote:

    43 Eviscera

    It's all very well misrepresenting the statistics, but what does it achieve? So far it only seems to have made people decide there are no issues with inequality and not to look into why so many part time workers are female, or indeed why those workers are paid more than their male counterparts.


    I'd say it's fairly obvious why females earn more part-time - there are more of them, the majority in fact - it seems reasonable they would on average take the best part-time roles, contrast that with men, who are only a small percentage, and also less likely to be taking part-time roles as a lifestyle choice and are more likely there because they have less options

    It's fairly pointless to address such a mild discrepancy, but if Harman really wants to balance the stats then she should be addressing that too - to ignore it is inconsistent and undermines her all the more

    49 Joan Olivares

    'Is the fact that you work in the military the reason why you're paid equally?'

    It's because he's in a job with a set pay structure, which comes under the Equal Pay Act (1970) - most jobs are set-up like this

    The main exception is salaried jobs where salary can be negotiated, which primarily affects higher management, and a lot of the gender pay gap is down to the roles men and women take - which is why so many of us oppose the use of these stats as they fail to look at the reality of the situation, there could be sexist practices at work, although the new, more relevant study shows otherwise (see 46) - but the gender pay stats do little to highlight any of these problems

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  • 53. At 12:52pm on 12 Aug 2009, stracepipe wrote:

    This sort of misrepresentation also applies to issues regarding race. The race relations lobby, and the BBC, are very keen to point out that ethnic minorities are under represented in the police, but conveniently ignore the facts that a) contrary to popular belief only 9% of the UK population is ethnic, and b)ethnic minorities are grossly over represented in other professions, particularly in medicine. The BBC frequently airs the issue of quotas, for ethnic minorities, within the police force, but I've never heard the BBC discuss the possible need for quotas of Anglo-Saxons within the NHS.
    With regard to any gender pay gap, I believe any pay gap to be the result of men, (managers in private industry), having a higher estimation of their own ability, and thus demanding more at job interviews. They are also more likely to jump ship the moment they don't get what they want. Women tend to have lower expectations, accept less and allow a sense of loyalty to get in the way of their own interests. I know I have. I've changed my attitude over the last two years, and my salary has increased 50%!

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  • 54. At 6:20pm on 12 Aug 2009, Andi wrote:

    I'm paying for these worse-than-worthless statistics to be generated; and to hear Harriet Harman's illegal sexist claptrap about promoting women because they're women rather than because they're the best person for the job. And I'm really fed-up of it. It does nothing but harm to the case for equal rights.

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  • 55. At 02:37am on 13 Aug 2009, harrietharmman wrote:

    "asking Ms Harman to coordinate findings in sex equality is going to be rather like asking Nick Griffin to chair an investigation on immigration!"

    Exactly, I can see little difference between the two other than they target a different type of victim with their lies propaganda and bigotry.

    Of course Harman's blatant sexism is more socially acceptable than Griffin's racism, though really we should be condemning them both equally. It's scandalous that this nation has elected such awful individuals.

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  • 56. At 10:21pm on 13 Aug 2009, Shaun Harvey wrote:

    Dosen't her point basically boil down to paying part-timers higher wages in proportion to full-time staff e.g. managers and the like. In my eyes that's wrong. If women want to be part-time when they have kids more than men, something my experience suggests is more often than not a voluntary arrangement, then what can be done? Abolish the motherly instinct and then you have the problem solved Harriet.

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  • 57. At 3:54pm on 14 Aug 2009, Luis wrote:

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  • 58. At 3:59pm on 14 Aug 2009, Luis wrote:

    Equal pay means the same amount of money for the same type of job and the same amount of time worked,
    So lets reflect on Tennis and Wimbledon just as an example.
    Men play best of five, women best of three. The prize money its exactly the same.

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  • 59. At 07:08am on 16 Aug 2009, read between the lies wrote:

    why do they not be honest and post the earnings for men and women doing the same job with the same service?

    the reason - if they did there would be very little difference, especially when stated that women working part time earn more than men on average

    what harriet wants is the soviet system where everyone s paid the same pittance regardless of job (except the politicians)

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  • 60. At 07:41am on 16 Aug 2009, read between the lies wrote:

    "The WWC is an independent body, and the way they chose to measure the gender pay gap in their report is a matter for them. "

    How gullible doe the government think we are?

    A quango (the members of quangos are decided by government, as are their funding) based in a government office, regurgitating discredited statistics previously issued by the department, in whoes office they are based, which mirror the political and socio-engineering agenda of the minister in charge of that department and we are supposed to believe that it is independant?

    Also why has the researcher who produced this report not been fired for plagerism? after all they obviously did not do any research but istead produced a dodgy dossier based on previously issued false statistics

    perhaps they will next lead the iraq war inquiry where they will tell us 45 min etc

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  • 61. At 04:06am on 18 Aug 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:


    Why, am I not surprised with the bending of gender stats...And, the situation regarding Harriet Harman...

    =Dennis Junior=

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  • 62. At 11:53am on 18 Aug 2009, The_Hess wrote:

    There are always going to be differences in pay as different groups are drawn to different careers e.g. more women in teaching, more men in engineering etc.

    As soon as the government tries to regulate this they essentially are deciding how we should be thinking. Yes discrimination is bad, but this report does not focus on actuall examples of discrimination but simply says men and women are different. Well, duh!

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  • 63. At 4:14pm on 18 Aug 2009, jones_gone wrote:

    You also have to take into account that every time a female worker gets pregnant, her employer, even if it's only a small operation with a few employees, has to provide her with full pay for 6 months while she has time off, having to fund a replacement in the meantime, essentially thus paying two people to do one job. With such a discriminatory situation in place, it's no wonder women are treated differently to men in the workplace.

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  • 64. At 5:18pm on 18 Aug 2009, U14106812 wrote:

    Statistics are generated as prestiege propaganda. Statistics say something but not normally what people pretend they do. For example inflation does not show how much good and services in general have gone up , they only show how much selected items have gone up at certain shops or stores and then are given a superficial percentage rating. These goods and items are also changed every year thus just showing a manipulated version of inflation. Yet even sites such as the BBC still claim they are a good measure of inflation which I wholeheartly refute.

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  • 65. At 08:09am on 19 Aug 2009, iworkforwork wrote:

    Yet another person complaining about house hold work (joan olivares).
    Please read the article again it is on about the pay gap between men and women not who does the household chores thats down to you and your partner to sort out not the goverment.

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  • 66. At 11:57am on 19 Aug 2009, Newby wrote:

    a womands work is never done....
    may be thats why they are paid less?

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  • 67. At 4:39pm on 20 Aug 2009, Dave Cheadle wrote:

    Misreporting of statistics is rife everywhere from advertising (where you might expect it) to Government, it seems. In a way this is inevitable. What is sad and terrible is the lamentable lack of challenge that is given to such figures before they pass into the popular imagination.

    You might imagine that a bulwark against misinformation might be the press, but they too seem happy to swallow any line they are fed, regardless as to its statistical veracity.

    I believe there were once plans mooted for an 'ombudsman of statistics' or something, which would be an independent arbiter of official stats. Did anything come of such a plan, or are we merely reliant on the activism of the current head of the ONS to call out politicians' lies?

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  • 68. At 7:08pm on 20 Aug 2009, U14109315 wrote:

    This totally proves how thick and stupid some so called important high powered professional people can be.

    Derr... An hourly pay rate calculation should be the way to go for these government bodies and spokes peoples in trouser suits.

    By the way part-timers are far far far less productive (about 60-85%) as they always leave things for the other full timers to do and that's when they are in the office.

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  • 69. At 00:33am on 21 Aug 2009, Chris_X wrote:

    Comparisons of pay should be made in like-for-like vocations and skill sets. The statement "full time men earn more than women" (or vice versa) means nothing unless we know why this is. The phrasing of the statement itself suggests to many that some form of discrimination is occurring. However, the following line of logic may also be true:

    • A greater percentage of men are interested in mathematics, science and computers.
    • People who are interested in mathematics, science and computers tend to get qualifications in those areas (it is true that a greater proportion of degrees in these subject areas are awarded to men).
    • These skills are in higher demand than many other skills, hence employees in these areas tend to earn salaries above the national average.
    • Thus without any form of discrimination occurring, we now have a situation where men would tend to earn more than women.

    Now, this scenario may or may not be what is actually happening, but the fact that it is plausible shows exactly why we need to look beyond the raw numbers and try to explain exactly what's going on. Ms Harman and others who highlight the raw data that suit their agenda, without any further analysis, do a disservice to both men and women who have suffered from genuine discrimination in their workplace.

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  • 70. At 2:42pm on 21 Aug 2009, pandatank wrote:

    #69 - I agree with your argument but refute your examples. The only career path in the examples you used earning salaries above the national average is in computing. Most branches of engineering require you to be approaching Chartership before earning that kind of salary. Irrespective of the effport Govt. has put into addressing the desparate technical skills shortage, I think you will find that the Sales staff, Accounting (OK, it's Maths of a sort) and HR earn more than their Production equivalents and nationally there's more of them. 55% of the workforce is not involved in production and 1 in 7 employees is a manager. If technical ability and production were properly valued, there'd be less discrimination (of any kind), we wouldn't have the current financial crisis and we'd have the manufacturing base and industry to pull ourselves out of the mire.

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  • 71. At 5:34pm on 21 Aug 2009, mabruce wrote:

    I try to teach undergraduates how easy it is to manipulate statistics (and this one will be yet one more example). A favorite book that I ask students to read, very short and still applicable, even though it was published over half a century ago is:

    "How to Lie With Statistics" by Darrell Huff.

    This book does an excellent job of citing common examples of how to 'distort' numbers in their reporting. It is easy to read by the general public and strongly recommended, providing many examples similar to the one reported here.

    Perhaps this should be required reading for all government ministers?

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  • 72. At 11:44pm on 21 Aug 2009, delminister wrote:

    every one knows there are pay gaps and not just male to female you have different areas that still pay well below the so called national average, and then you have this minister paying lip service to one part and shooting herself in the foot in doing so.
    this government is uninterested in the problem becouse they seem to just not care.
    sadly it is endemic of governments to play on these areas when winding up for elections then forget about them until they need votes.
    one day a government may solve the problem but i can not see it in the near future.

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