The gender pay gap data is ‘noisy in more ways than one’, according to analyst Bruce Tether, professor at Manchester University’s Alliance Manchester Business School. Not only has it created a cacophony of arguments but it is difficult to decipher what the figures are really telling us.
As regards the methods, the median pay gap reveals the difference in pay between the middle man and the middle woman in a line-up, by salary, of a firm’s staff, while – explains Tether – the mean measure is less useful as it is easily skewed by a few high-earning staff members.
The real problem is that data does not reveal ‘any systemic bias’, Tether says. ‘It tells me that the median man in a practice is paid something between 10 to 30 per cent more than the median woman, but I don’t know anything about whether the median man has more experience.’
Tether says the data would have shown us more if it had taken key variables about a practice’s employee, including their age and qualifications, and compared it with the nearest person of the opposite gender at the same firm.