I wrote a long analysis recently of misleading reporting on the gender wage gap and referred to a lot of research evidence to support my case that most of the alleged wage gap is the result of voluntarily chosen behaviour rather than systemic discrimination against women.

In my opinion the wage gap argument is constructed as an ideological device to criticise men for a situation they are not responsible for. It seems unnecessary given that there are many obvious issues to legitimately criticise men about, such as the prevalence of their violent behaviour towards women.

Political commentator and journalist Annabel Crabb stated in a recent interview by Leigh Sales in the Saturday Paper that:

a 26-year-old average male Australian can expect to earn $2 million over the course of his 40-year career. And if he has children, that goes up to $2.4 million… The truth is that men who have children are thought of as better employees, more reliable, more justifying of promotion, better leadership figures, and deserving of a higher income.

This is complete nonsense. It is a demographic fact that there is a positive correlation between wealth and likelihood of fatherhood in men. Low socio-economic status men are less likely to have children than high status men. This is true in Australia and other western countries like the USA, the UK and Italy.

The conventional interpretation of this fact is that economic potential is highly attractive to women seeking a partner to have children with. High status men are chosen by women to have children with more than low status men because they have the capacity to be better providers.

But Crabb ignores this obvious common sense and instead posits a theory, without evidence, that employers validate social prejudice against the child-free and reward fathers with better wages. Never mind that the opposite idea, namely that employers prefer child-free employees on the grounds that they require less flexible working arrangements, which employers find inconvenient, is supported by evidence:

According to the May 2013 survey of 500 Australian business decision-makers and 2,000 employees by workplace management consultancy Kronos, employers really do have a stereotype regarding the kind of employees they like to take on: male, childless and unattached. The reason? Because being male and ‘perpetually available’ with no competing priorities is seen as desirable and less likely to request flexible working arrangements, according to the research.

I posted a comment to this effect on the article. It was not published and the following day I sent a polite email asking why. I wanted the comment live so I could link to it in this article. The comment met their comment policy. I was surprised when I posted it to see that there were no other comments on the article. The email was not replied to. I then tweeted the Saturday Paper. They replied and said they would contact me again but didn’t. So much for basic online community management principles and timely content moderation. Whatever.

On loading the article again I can sometimes see 9 comments, sometimes none. I think they have a technical problem with the shit commenting platform, Disqus, they are using. I tweeted them to that effect, but to no response. Oh well, they have missed the moment on this story. If it had been published elsewhere it would likely have attracted hundreds of comments.

There are many genuine examples of workplace discrimination against women, such as recent research about pregnant woman being unfairly dismissed. There is no point in constructing propaganda about gender workplace discrimination and doing so represents an example of ideological posturing that is sexist and deserves to be challenged.

Annabel Crabb’s misleading misinterpretation of men and fatherhood in the wage gap debate

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