11 April 2008

Female apprentices earn less than male

Perhaps I should stop reading the BBC News website so often, but it just provides such good fodder for blogging!

In the latest, female apprentices earned £147 compared with the £186 per week that male apprentices could expect to receive. In yet another example of brilliant investigative reporting, the beeb suggests that this is because;

The difference is mainly due to the fact that female apprentices tend to work in lower paid sectors than males.

Hairdressing apprentices earned £109 a week while apprentices in electro technical posts earned £210 weekly.

Those in early years posts earned £142 a week compared with £189 for those in engineering and manufacturing, the research commissioned by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Dius) said.

However, they don't take it upon themselves to investigate why it is that we seem to value - and therefore reward - traditionally male occupations so much more highly. Particularly telling of our screwed up values system is the low wage which is attached to early years care. Why is this not more highly paid? Either we do not as a society think that being able to access high-quality childcare is especially important, or we have found that we can get away with paying the (predominantly) young women who do significantly less than what they could hope to get if they chose to work in other sectors.

Actually, I think it a combination of those two factors. Firstly, patriarchy has a general impression that childcare should be free - after all, women did it for years without being paid for it. Why should the uppity bitches expect money for it now? Secondly, it does seem as though the people who actually do these jobs accept their low wage packets as part of the deal. Perhaps this is because, as with nursing (another female-dominated low wage profession), there is an element of altruism which means that the people entering the profession do so for more than financial gain. However, just because someone does something with the best of intentions does not mean that they should not be adequately compensated for their time and effort. Traditionally female jobs, such as those within the "caring" professions, should have their salaries brought in line with jobs from other sectors which have similar levels of skill required.

As a final note, I actually think that, as society could not function as it currently does without people filling these roles, and taking care of the more vulnerable members of society, their pay should reflect that. However, at the moment, I think that at least increasing it to the levels of other similar jobs will have to do!

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