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Smaller firms should be made to report gender pay gaps, MPs say


Hi Fiona, Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment. Firstly may I say that I am a big fan of your practice’s work, especially your St. Hilda’s proposal; it is quite beautiful. I hope though that you will be able to see the understandable errors in your assessment, as it is only once we properly analyse the facts that we can address the actual causal factors behind the gender imbalance in the profession. You quite rightly say that the mean average hourly pay is a straightforward calculation, but unfortunately it is precisely because of its simplicity that it does not sufficiently accurately represent the complexities of the topic. The mean (as opposed to the median or mode) is the least reliable measure of average, as it is affected so much by outliers. The pay-gap legislation addresses this to some extent by requiring a quartile split across the range of salary values, but this does not eliminate the problem, not least because the overall figures tend to be the only ones that get reported. You also quite rightly precede your other assertions with a caveat of ‘for whatever reasons’. You are right to acknowledge that there are a many unknown variables affecting relative pay levels. You then make a very big leap though by your assertions that women are both ‘stuck at the bottom of the profession and/or not valued as much as men by their employers’. This is a non-sequitur. As far as I am aware there is no reliable evidence to suggest either of these is true to any degree. If you know of any that suggests otherwise, please do link to it. We will only get the bottom of this problem once we do a detailed multivariate analysis incorporating all of the relevant causal factors. You go on to say ‘I see no good reason at all why high-quality firms would not be able to attract and keep high-ranking women architects.’ I completely agree. The issue is about the relative numbers; i.e the relative probability that any given woman and any given man will continue to choose to favour their career over other areas of interest, such as family or other projects/activities. Now of course these things should not be incompatible with a successful career, but the person who works 80 hours a week is far more likely to do better in their career than the person who works 40 hours a week, and there are more men who are willing to do that than there are women, hence those individuals are disproportionately likely to have very high career success (I can recommend Warren Farrell’s section of ‘The Boy Crisis’ for a more in-dept analysis of these issues and their origins). How hard people work does affect how likely they are to succeed (and I’m someone who has always disagreed with the culture of overtime in architecture, and who doesn’t do it myself, but that's another topic). There is also a very strong body of scientific literature on the psychological differences between men and women, some of which manifests itself in factors that are predictors of success in the workplace, such as differences in conscientiousness (women are higher on average), and disagreeableness (women are lower on average). But it is important to note that there is far greater difference within the groups than between them (i.e the normal distribution curves overlap a lot but are offset). There are a great many variables that could be further considered, but I’ll stop taking up your time now. Thanks again for commenting; it’s a conversation that needs to be had in a lot more depth I think. I hope the AJ will engage with this topic with an open mind so everyone can be involved in the discussion. :)

Posted date

7 August, 2018

Posted time

10:00 am