Does Carrie Gracie resigning from her £135K BBC job have anything to do with you and me?
Carrie Gracie, former China editor for the BBC, recently quit her post and took demotion when she discovered her male equivalents earn 50% more than her.
Yes, it’s hard to empathise with someone who’s resigned from a prestigious, well-paid job because she wasn’t getting paid enough. Particularly when we read that she was offered an extra £45K to stay on, but turned it down.
And there’s always something a little distasteful to Brits when well-paid people complain about their already high pay. Especially, it seems, when the complainer is a woman.
But Gracie insists it’s not about the money. It’s about equality. And fairness.
And that’s got everything to do with us.
THIS IS OUR YEAR
It’s 100 years to the year since middle-class women over the age of 30 were given the right to vote (it took another ten years for all women to get that right on equal terms with men).
2018 is a year for celebration about how far our gender has come.
Yay! Go us! We did it!
Well, not quite, it seems.
In fact, the battle is far from over.
And equal pay is one of the front lines.
Despite the first Equal Pay Act introduced a mere 48 years ago, women are still not getting the same pay as men in the same jobs.
I didn’t learn the history of the gender equality movement at school. I admit my knowledge of women’s history post 1620 is shamefully inadequate.
I have a shaky grasp of the facts thanks to spending a boozy weekend at a history conference in the Midlands (c. 2007), where a very camp Welsh bingo caller I had befriended in the bar the night before gave a paper on equal pay in the Post Office 1870-1960 and I tried with all my might to a) stay awake; b) not throw up; and c) look interested in what he was saying.
Any other knowledge I have about the topic derives from the uplifting 2010 film Made in Dagenham, starring the wonderful Sally Hawkins and Miranda Richardson and subsequent googling of the true story.
I remember watching it and thinking along the lines of – isn’t it terrible that they weren’t paid equally?; well done sisters for overturning this injustice; and thank god we’re living in different times.
Except, we’re not.
I guess our reluctance to talk about money is to blame. Do you know what everyone you work with earns? Are you sure you earn the same rate as men do in the same role? How would you even find out if your company is paying its women and men equally?
How can you gain equality if you don’t know that inequality is even happening?
GENDER PAY GAP
The BBC has responded to the story with the promise to close the gender pay gap by 2020. But that’s a whole other story.
The gender pay gap isn’t about equal pay for equal jobs.
The gender pay gap is about inequality of opportunity.
It describes the mean hourly pay for all men and women. Here the situation is even worse, as women hold more of the lower-paid roles and less of the higher-paid ones.
Easyjet has revealed that women’s average hourly pay in its staff is 52% lower than men’s; due to the fact that only 9% of women are in well-paid pilot roles whilst women make up 69% of the lower-paid cabin crew.
And, according to campaign group, the Fawcett Society, at current rates, it’s going to take another hundred years for this pay gap to disappear.
That means our daughters, our granddaughters and even our great-granddaughters are destined to suffer the gender pay gap too.
As with the #metoo campaign of last year, we seem to require injustice in medialand for our eyes to be opened to what’s going on everywhere around us.
Carrie Gracie might seem like a million miles away from planet normal. But she’s done a grand job of highlighting another blindingly obvious facet of discrimination against women.
Let’s hope everyone keeps banging on about it for a bit longer so that our daughters’ daughters’ daughters won’t be still in the same crappy boat that we’re frantically trying to keep afloat.