Once again, Equality Mr. Rubik!

BBC post another statistical gaff, and that’s only in the link(!)

The title on the page is “What if all workplaces had to be a third female?”, yet the link was called:

“Goals allowed: What if a third of ALL workplaces had to be female?”.

Maybe it’s a gaff in statistics or just careless word order, but I’d interpret “a third of ALL workplaces had to be female” as 33% of companies being exclusive of men. They should get the “More or Less” team to review BBC content before it goes out!

This is about “Pay Equality” and it ALWAYS come up, year after year. Generally pushed by people who have an interest in it ;p.

The truth is, certain fields aren’t conducive to women, so these surveys are always flawed.

There is an argument that supersedes the discrimination conjecture: Nature versus Nurture.

For discrimination to be a factor you have to assume that both groups have equal abilities. This presupposes that both sets do have equal abilities in all areas the jobs would cover.

However, factors may not be equal with the genders for everything. How often do you see a girl playing with a Rubik Cube for example?

The Rubik Cube

I am not saying for one moment that Toys should be in firm and unmovable categories of “Boys Toys” or “Girls Toys”, Jasmine likes to play with toy cars, Emma likes to play with building blocks and trains, and I actively encourage them both.

However The Nature vs. Nuture argument could be used to look at Rubik Cubes. Let’s say the job is “Rubik Cube Demonstrator”. There are two ways of looking at it: most users are Men, so the target market is male, so get yourself  a few pretty girls to demonstrate it at a conference. This works on the de-nerding of the Cube, and will attract the attention of the men who weren’t interested in the actual cube.

Alternatively because the majority of users are men, maybe there would be a large shortage of women who could do the cube with sufficient dexterity to take on the job of “Rubik Cube Demonstrator” – Should the exhibition organiser be forced to take on someone without the skllset because there aren’t enough women exhibition staff?

I can feel the feminist’s wrath at both of those examples, but the point I am trying to make is the symbol of the uber nerd – the cube (57secs if you are wondering) –  is a real sieve function for what may be a real gender gap.

Any of the major names I could think of associated with the Rubik Cube have one thing in common, see if you can spot it:

Erno Rubik : Male

Tibor Latzi : Male

Tom Kremer: Male

David Kremer: Male

David Singmaster : Male

 Minh Thai : Male

So if a gender gap exists with a Rubik Cube, where else could it exist? And what would the cause be: Nature or Nuture?

A parent or peer might have discouraged the girl or lady from playing with the Rubik Cube, similarly a parent or peer may encourage the boy or man to play with the Rubik Cube (unlikely!). The alternative would be that there is something naturally occurring (genetic or hormonal or developmental) that makes males more likely to play with the cube.

It’s a difficult issue to separate out the Nature and Nurture with the Cube, so I think its necessary to look at something where no parent would encourage boys to be one way and girls to be another way.

Mental Health

There are several psychological disorders that men are more prone to than women.

Schizophrenia is known as a young man’s illness, but I challenge any one to show me a parent who would push boys down that route. Generally I don’t know of any connection between schizophenia and a particular profession. ASD (Autism, Aspergers) do have anecdotal evidence of a connection with engineering, mathematics and accounting (observed by Simon Baren Cohen). These professions are interestingly male dominated.

If women’s and men’s brains are identical, why are 75% of all cases of Aspergers Syndrome or Autism Male? That’s 3:1 ratio of men to women.

Is Aspergers Syndrome subject to sexual discrimination? Or are Men’s Brains wired differently from Women’s?

I don’t know of genetic links to either of these illnesses or conditions, but if it were, then a  gender non-equality in Mental Health exists.

Health and Safety Executive Data

Then we have the data from the HSE. It’s there on the website if you care to look.



This basically says that 97% of work place fatalities are men, just trying to earn a wage.

Someone who works in a dangerous industry (and some are intrinsically dangerous) should receive higher compensation for their risk. Sticklers will say these statistics they reel out year on year of pay inequality are for equivalent jobs (more on that later!).

Alex, Bob & Charlie

In a free market, the opportunities one is offered can have an affect on completely unrelated activities, so presence of danger money may well affect money in safer environments.

Imagine this: if Alex and Bob both work for the same place (let’s say in a sales department) and Bob is offered work on scaffolding or oilrigs, he might resign, and go after the better pay.

Both Alex and Bob are good workers. Top workers. Charlie, the boss wants to keep them, so Charlie matches the pay that Bob would get on the Scaffold or Oil rig.

Alex would never work on an Oil Rig, or Scaffold: it’s just too dangerous, but when Alex hears Bob was offered more money to stay at the company, Alex wants the same pay rise.

Why should Charlie give Alex a pay rise because Bob is going to leave?

It’s the Reverse Darwinism at it’s best. Alex can grab the tailcoats of Bob and proceed up the pay scales without ever having to threaten to leave the company and work on oil rigs.

No danger, yet get paid the money for it.

This argument works just as well whether Alex and Charlie are men or women. Sometimes you get paid for the job you don’t do. It’s about negotiation skills and free markets.

“Equivalent Jobs”

Usually some feminist organisation compares the wages of a Car Mechanic with those of a Nursery Nurse. This is a Very Poor Comparison.

I love my children very dearly (more than I love my car) but once again I invite you into my warped mind: I would rather have a Car Mechanic with kids of his own look after my children than a Nursery Nurse with a Car of her own service my car. Aside from the obvious lack of skills the Nursery Nurse hasn’t gained from looking after her own car that the Car Mechanic had gained by looking after his own kids, the Garage is a much more dangerous place for the actual Nursery Nurse. All manner of moving HEAVY parts, dangerous fumes, toxic materials: and that’s just the Mechanic doing a nappy change. (drum role: disclaimer: my kids don’t wear nappies anymore!).

Labour Leadership:

The Final Clincher for me with the hot air that is around this issue is Harriet Harmon and the recent Labour Leadership contest. As deputy leader she always says there are too few women in Top jobs, and there should be more, possibly with “Job Shares”.

This is another case of “Do as I say, not as I do” with Hariett Harman.

Why didn’t she run for Ed Milliband’s position with a co-runner? Is the Labour Leadership too important for her to job share, or is it because she knows it would be a bad idea to have a top position filled by two part time people?

Businesses want to make money

Finally, Let’s agree with the findings (or imagine they are true as I’d put it): women do EXACTLY the same job as men, and take less money for it.

A business owner (male or female) would know this statistic, and realise he or she could save 10% on wages by employing a female only work force to do the job cheaper than the male work force. More businesses would employ only women if this were true.

However there aren’t lots of Female only businesses out there out performing the male dominated sexist businesses we all hear about. 

Draw your own conclusions.


(Comments expressing any opinion are welcome).

Published in: on 10/11/2010 at 6:09 pm  Leave a Comment