Wednesday, March 08, 2006

"Gender gap"? Which gender gap?

Here's a beauty from the BBC - the "gender gap is still wide open". Which gender gap? The financial one, of course. To bolster the case, good old Auntie Beeb points out a different gender gap - that more women complete secondary school than men and there are more female university students than male. This latter gender gap gets no more than a brief mention at the beginning of the article followed by a torrent of information, including three fancy graphs, to show that women still earn less than men and are less likely to be managers. What are we to conclude? Fairly clearly that since women do better in school it is all the more unjust that they are paid less and seem to have fewer chances of being in charge. The logic, or lack thereof, seems to be something like "because we have this injustice here, that injustice there, in the opposite direction, is all the worse". What a wonderful piece of reasoning.

Is it relevant that the educational gender gap has been present for a very short time and that the educational lifetime from, let's say, a couple of years before leaving secondary school to graduating with a degree is about 5-6 years, whereas the workplace lifetime is more like 45 years or more? Of course it is, but Auntie Beeb wouldn't know. If these educational factoids are true and we have overshot parity in school, then reason dictates we should expect it to take several decades until it is reflected in the workplace, not be indignant that it hasn't happened overnight. Some concern at this overshoot from the BBC would also be refreshing, but, again, I hope too much.

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