Delving deeper into the gender pay gap | Letters

Naomi Wayne says lessons can be learned from 1970s activism. Dr Stephen Vallely says all NHS consultants, whether male or female, are paid on exactly the same salary scale. Danny Dorling takes issue with the the Oxford Diocesan School Trust. And Ann Pask says Britain should not still be waiting for a living wage

Working in the education department of an Irish trade union over 40 years ago, I had no difficulty enabling the (mostly) male shop steward students to get to grips with the idea of men and women doing vastly different jobs being entitled to the same pay (Angry about the pay gap? Here’s what to do, 3 April). I would simply ask: If this “female” job were done by men instead, how much would they be paid? It never failed. Shop stewards would howl with laughter at the idea of paying men so badly. Arguments that work dominated by women was less physically demanding, or less “skilled”, and so justified lower pay, would dissolve, as fine motor skills or adeptness in human relations were suddenly found worthy of the “male” rate.

Today the jobs and industries may have changed, but the ideas we need to challenge gender discrimination at work haven’t. Why are women still concentrated in the lower-paid jobs? Clearly women should have equal access to all current areas of higher-paid work. But if men dominated the care industries, or the BBC’s China correspondent had been a man, would employers still be taking it for granted that such “male” work was worth so little?
Naomi Wayne

• Your article (Revealed: scale of public sector pay gap, 31 March) gives a misleading impression of pay for NHS consultants, implying that there is an implicit gender gap.

For the record, all NHS consultants, whether male or female, are paid on exactly the same salary scale, which is agreed and implemented nationally. Differences in salaries are explained by multiple factors including the amount of additional work a consultant agrees to do for the NHS over and above their basic contract and additional awards for clinical excellence. While it may potentially be the case that a male consultant is more likely to obtain the latter awards than his female colleague, the data needs to be analysed and presented in its entirety before making the simplistic assumption that salary differences are the result of gender bias.
Dr Stephen Vallely
Consultant radiologist, Belfast

• Anne Davey and Kathy Winrow of the Oxford Diocesan School Trust (ODST) claim that their trusts “have a gender pay gap because we offer employment that is part-time and term-time only” (Letters, 29 March). But gender pay gaps are calculated according to hourly rates, not annual pay. So is the ODST paying a lower hourly rate to people who work part time as compared with full time and/or those who work term time only as opposed to all year round, but who otherwise do a very similar job? If that is not the reason for the ODST’s gender pay gap, what is?

The results for thousand of schools and other employers are now available at and vary dramatically from one another. Those with greater pay gaps should be asked to provide a convincing explanation.
Danny Dorling

• I was recently at the excellent Museum of London and was shocked to see a poster from 1913 with a picture of a female worker who looked desperate and forlorn with the slogan “Waiting for a Living Wage”. The work of ordinary working people and the contribution they make to the wealth of this country is still not properly recognised. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

What possible justification can there be for not paying a real living wage? Clearly there is money around because this government has given tax cuts to the wealthiest and reduced corporation tax. Meanwhile the rest of us are victims of a stealth tax because councils are being forced by this Tory government to raise council tax to meet legal and moral obligations. And the “just about managing” – as May likes to call them – are managing no longer, the increase in food bank use is soaring, and all attempts to provide “a fair deal for everyone” ring hollow. The suffragette slogan “Deeds not Words” rings a sad note. Deeds not words, Mrs May.
Ann Pask
Grimsby, Lincolnshire

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