Do we actually need to level the playing field?

By Claire Fox | 19 November 2015
  • Claire Fox

I write this on Monday 9 November, dubbed #EqualPayDay. We’re told that’s the date from which women are working for free for the rest of the year, due to an average gender pay gap of 14.2%. So apart from hoping I get paid for this article, supporting this campaign seems a no-brainer. However, after a day of outraged tweets, articles and broadcast features about how today’s women are being treated as second class citizens by patriarchal villains, I’ve become sceptical. At the very least, the outlandish claims about a conspiracy of male chauvinists holding back women, needs to be assessed coolly.

In 2015 no one seriously argues that men should earn more than women for doing the same, like-for-like work, so why the exaggerated sense of grievance? Cheering on Suffragette’s heroic laundry workers or Downton’s kitchen maid Daisy for educating herself to escape service should remind us that today’s equality landscape is very different to that of our fore-sisters in servitude. Today, girls consistently outperform boys at school and outnumber their male peers at university. Can’t we dispense with the victim stories and rather celebrate the myriad opportunities we have in contrast to the dark days of institutionalised discrimination?

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