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Friday 21 September 2018
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Letters to the Editor

Wage gap: A closer look

THE EDITOR: From hyperbolic claims that police officers and doctors are “dismissive and rough” to rape victims to hysterical assertions that “women are fighting for the right to love,” last Thursday’s International Women’s Day was defined by a farrago of fake facts. It would be irksome to refute all the specific laments, but one issue reveals the typical misrepresentations: the complaint made by many IWD spokeswomen about the wage gap between men and women in T&T. None of these women presented any actual statistics and, although one article in Business Newsday cited a 60 per cent gap, that report also claimed that the average man in TT earns an absurdly high salary of $20,000 a month while women earn $11,000.

However, the average male wage in 2008 (the last Labour Force Report) was $4,640 a month and the female was $3,758. Among male officials and managers, the mean salary was just over $8,000 a month, while women earned $5,000. Among male professionals, the mean monthly salary was over $11,500 whereas for females it was just under $10,000. In the elementary occupations, men earned $2,800 and women $2,000.

Thus, we have an overall wage differential of 23 per cent between men and women. This, however, is not the whole story. First of all, there were more men than women in the labour force – 74 per cent of men as compared to 52 per cent of women. This means that the average must be skewed in favour of men. Among managers and officials, the Labour Force Report recorded 16 per cent more men than women, while in the basic jobs there were one-third more men than women. In the professions, however, women outnumbered men by nine per cent. But that is still not the whole story.

When you look at hours, men worked 39 hours per week, while women 38 hours. This would reduce the raw differential in wages, since men were getting paid more for more work. Among professionals – where, remember, women outnumber men – in the 33-40 hours range, 22 per cent more women work these hours compared to men. However, twice as many professional men worked more than 41 hours a week compared to women, and twice as many men as women also worked two jobs. All of which means that, once all these factors are considered, women at worst earned about 15 per cent less than men.

If you include women’s career choices, that gap effectively shrinks to zero.

Kevin Baldeosingh, Freeport

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