THE BLOG

Hurray, It's Equal Pay Day! Oh Wait...

08/04/2015 10:06 BST | Updated 07/06/2015 10:59 BST

One day, there will come a point when I won't have to write a blog about equal pay for women, and when 14 April (in the US) or 4 November (in the UK) won't be known as Equal Pay Day.

We can rename it something wonderful and gender neutral like Cheese Sandwich Day.

But sadly that day hasn't arrived. And so here I sit yet again, filled with righteous fire.

Why? Because the female CEO of Reddit has decided to abolish salary negotiations because she's seen how bad women are at negotiating their own salaries.

"Men negotiate harder than women do and sometimes women get penalized when they do negotiate. So as part of our recruiting process, we don't negotiate with candidates," Ellen Pao said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

I can see what Pao means - like thousands of women, I have always found it difficult to negotiate pay - I always revert to my 22-year-old self when I was grateful to be paid anything for doing a job I loved. I think at one point someone tried to pay me in shower gel.

In comparison, my male friends from university have no qualms, no problems at all in demanding what they think they are due. (And often get it).

I've wondered why that may be, and I think the fundamental difference is that a lot of women believe that they may be winging it or someone will 'find them out' even if they are eminently qualified to do the job.

To be told no, means a confirmation of their biggest fear - that secretly the company is hiring them because they deign to, rather than the simple fact that the person is actually amazing at their job and needs them.

It would be irresponsible not to acknowledge that men get paid more because they are better and more aggressive at negotiating, but rather than abolishing negotiations, should we not just teach women to be better negotiators?

Also, it's not a scalable solution. I can see how Pao's 'we pay you what is fair' policy works for conglomerates where HR teams are answerable for the opening of an envelope, but that doesn't ring true for smaller companies.

Having worked in the past for people that worked to a budget and didn't really care whether or not that came at my expense, I can't say I view this with overwhelming confidence.

It requires a lot of faith to be placed in the system, that people will get paid a fair amount. It's clearly not something that happens at the moment otherwise we wouldn't HAVE a gender pay gap.

People who decide men get paid more than women aren't psychopaths or evil people, but clearly they are in an abundance if we still aren't being paid the same.

In fact, last year, Oxfam revealed it will take a whopping 75 years for us to close the gender pay gap, and unless I'm as lucky as Misao Okawa, who died at 117, I won't live to see this day either. In fact, equal pay won't happen in many of our lifetimes.

In comparison to men, the gender pay gap is so broad and so endemic that we work 57 days of the year free, for doing the same job.

We are paid an average £5,700 less than men. And men have double the chance of earning a higher salary than a woman who works the same hours.

To ask us to place faith in a system that has already failed women when it comes to fair pay is not the solution.