Why higher tuition fees will hurt women more


11:20 am - October 18th 2010

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contribution by Richard Morris

Much of the tuition fees debate has centred around the effect of the proposals on the ‘squeezed’ middle classes (at least it is when we Lib Dems are not all shouting ‘liar liar pants on fire’ at the leadership).

But we seem to be forgetting that various other groups will be penalised by the proposals as they stand – most obviously women.

While we struggle to address the earnings gap that exists in this country, (which the EHRC suggests is getting worse not better), the fact is that on average a woman in this country earns 16.4% less than her male equivalent.

So inevitably, as things stand, women – thanks to society’s failings – will on average take longer to pay off their debt than men. While this is less acute with the under 30’s, the inequality still remains and cannot be ignored when analysing the fairness, or otherwise, of tuition fees.

Furthermore, in almost every sector, we see an inequality of pay between the genders for doing the same job. Again, that means that a woman doing exactly the same job as a male colleague will take considerably longer to pay off her debt – and incur higher interest payments to boot. Where’s the fairness in that?

Add in factors like the fact that often women choose to work in socially more valuable but (ironically) lower paid jobs and are more likely to take career breaks for children and again we see women being punished for making choices that we encourage at face value – but then we financially penalise.

That’s not what I call social justice.

And yes – we need to address the inequality issue and eliminate the gap. But while it’s there, we’ll be charging women more for their degrees than men – which is ridiculous.

Introducing safeguards to protect the poorest in society is of course vital – but it’s not the silver bullet that will make all things right.

Liberal Democrat MP’s suddenly seem to be trotting out broadly similar phrases – that they will vote for the proposals ‘only if it ensures people from poorer backgrounds are not put off accessing top quality higher education’ (Stephen Williams, Tessa Munt and others, I’m looking at you). And of course that’s really important.

But it’s not enough to let them break their pledge. We need to find a system that is not regressive, protects all parts of society, and is fair to all. I’m pretty sure, back in May, we in the Lib Dems had one.


Richard Morris is a Lib Dem activist

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Reader comments


good piece.
i especially like this line:
‘women being punished for making choices that we encourage at face value – but then we financially penalise. ‘

this is particularly true regarding childrearing it seems to me. the right wing press delight in painting childless women as awful people who are selfish and think designer shoes are more important than babies. but if a woman does have a baby, the pay gap is higher than if she doesn’t. and if the father of the child leaves, or she leaves him, then the social and financial penalties are often even worse.

While we struggle to address the earnings gap that exists in this country, (which the EHRC suggests is getting worse not better), the fact is that on average a woman in this country earns 16.4% less than her male equivalent

Add in factors like the fact that often women choose to work in socially more valuable but (ironically) lower paid jobs and are more likely to take career breaks for children

I think I’ve spotted where the 16.4% figure comes from.

3. Chaise Guevara

@ 2

LOL. You’re right, of course: these aren’t additional factors, they’re causative factors.

Further to Tim J @ 2,

Average men in full-time employment work 39 hours per week and earn £28,270 a year. … On average, women with full-time jobs work 34 hours a week and earn a £22,151 salary.Mr and Mrs Average revealed, Daily Telegraph

5. Chaise Guevara

Fact-check:

“the fact is that on average a woman in this country earns 16.4% less than her male equivalent.

So inevitably, as things stand, women – thanks to society’s failings – will on average take longer to pay off their debt than men”

This is only true if women have the same or higher debt levels than men. Which may well be the case, obviously, but it does need to be confirmed. I should also point out that in many cases we’re talking about household debt, where the wife and husband will pay it off in the same timeframe even though he may earn more than her.

The ONS found that unmarried women earn just a little bit more than unmarried men: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/elmr/04_08/downloads/ELMR_Apr08_Leaker.pdf

I think this shows that none of the gender pay gap is attributable to actually just being a woman. It is all down to the choice to start a family. All women who want to earn as much as men have to do is either not have children, or find a partner who is willing to take on the majority of childcare duties. That they don’t seems to be a matter of choice rather than discrimination.

Quite frankly every single one of the cuts so far, hits women hardest. The joblosses will most be women in low paid public sector roles, or the ones working in private companies doing the jobs they used to do for a decent wage, in decent conditions, for our public sector. Mothers have been hit at every income level, single parents have had the link between working and paying their bills removed…the uni courses hit most likely to be used by women, the professions being sidelined and crushed- mainly ‘female’ professions. The so called couples penalty, the tories seek to eradicate is the money women claim to pay for childcare. Women more likely to be using state support, as they take on the unpaid caring work done in this country. Womens penions more likely to be hit….it goes on and on and on. Have never seen such an all out assault on an entire gender- pass with so little comment.

1. re: “I should also point out that in many cases we’re talking about household debt, where the wife and husband will pay it off in the same timeframe even though he may earn more than her”

Yes, because all women slot neatly into heterosexual marriages where financial power is equalised as she stays home to bring up children and he goes out to win the bread. Meanwhile, other events in 1953 worth noting include….[etc]

2. re usual troll boredom of the sort “OMG u are all so stoopid wimmin get less moneys because they CHOOSE to have babies and stay at home and not advance their careers which are already in lower-paid lower status work, DUH”, the usual retort: do you morons really, seriously, believe that choice takes place in social and ideological vacuums and that there is absolutely nothing striking about the blinding fact that it is predominantly women who are in worse-paid jobs and who are stuck at home brining up babies?* Or are you all actually as thick as your comments suggest, whereby you haven’t even stopped to consider whether “choice” is a little bit more complex than your glib throwing of the term around suggests?


*Cue boring cry of “it’s biology maaaan”, which of course anyone with a brain sees that post-birth is nonsense as men can – and frequently do – rear children showing that this is not a female-only ability/practice.

Browne, Willetts and Osborne will all argue that anyone earning lower than £21K a year won’t have to pay (which means, ironically, women on lower pay won’t pay back their fees until they earn more). Labour argued the same thing when they introduced fees. Women on higher pay (though less than men’s) will pay more because that’s how the system is designed (however badly), and because everyone in favour of fees argues that it isn’t really ‘debt’. It may also be the case that neither Browne nor Willetts has completed any kind of equality audit to support Morris’ argument – but then they might not give a stuff for what they’d regard as ‘PC nonsense’. Also, since more women are entering HE than men, they are now supposed to pay for it because they are the beneficiaries.

So the solutions are either no fees, differential rates of support and/or repayment according to gender, or a better strategy for equal pay so men and women can pay off £40K of debt on exactly the same terms.

Disclaimer: this post isn’t meant to endorse fees. However, women from middle-class backgrounds will get less financial support at university than men (and women) from working-class backgrounds, unless we really do want to differentiate on the basis of gender rather than class when it comes to university funding. Morris has a fair point, but it’s probably more complex than ‘women have it worse’.

10. Luis Enrique

If you are paying for a university education, then what matters is the change in earnings that results. The fact that women on average earn less probably tells us that the increase in earnings women experience by going to university is smaller than for men, but it’s not necessarily so.

Paul
are you points 1 and 2 consistent? In 1 you are complaining about the assumption of outdated gender roles and in 2 you are saying gender roles are still very much in operation.

re usual troll boredom of the sort “OMG u are all so stoopid wimmin get less moneys because they CHOOSE to have babies and stay at home and not advance their careers which are already in lower-paid lower status work, DUH”

Tetchy, tetchy. It is hardly stupid or trollish to point out to a poster that disparate wage rates between men and women is largely explained by the breaks in career many women take to raise children.

do you morons really, seriously, believe that choice takes place in social and ideological vacuums and that there is absolutely nothing striking about the blinding fact that it is predominantly women who are in worse-paid jobs and who are stuck at home brining up babies?

As a Tory, I naturally prefer my babies in olive oil. But what evidence there is strongly suggests that most women do not to return straightaway to fulltime employment after having children.

Only 12% of mothers wanted to work full time and 31% did not want to work at all. Their attitudes towards other mothers were consistent with their expectations of themselves: only 1% of mothers with children under five thought that the mother, in a family where the father worked and there were two pre-school children, should work full time; 49% thought she shouldn’t work at all.

http://www.cps.org.uk/cps_catalog/what%20women%20want.pdf

You can blame this distressing tendency of mothers not to want to work fulltime, and thereby rebalance the pay gap, on false consciousness, or on the patriarchy or on whatever you like. There’s not much point in denying that it exists though.

12. Chaise Guevara

@8

“Yes, because all women slot neatly into heterosexual marriages where financial power is equalised as she stays home to bring up children and he goes out to win the bread. Meanwhile, other events in 1953 worth noting include….[etc]”

Please see use of “many cases” in my post which you’re replying to. kthxbye.

The rest of your post (that is, those parts of said post that aren’t just mindless insults or you repeating what you think other people’s points are in a stupid voice) makes an entirely valid point, but it’s referring to something that goes a tad deeper than present-day government cuts. That doesn’t mean the issue should be ignored, but it does mean that the solution isn’t to deliberately balance the cuts so that they have an equal impact on men and women, regardless of any other factors.

If you spent a little more time addressing what people say and a little less snarking, slagging people off and generally failing to display any maturity at all, you might actually get somewhere.

I wearily await your reminder that I’m a moronic troll who torks like dis.

Two tangential points…

1) This doesn’t necessarily apply to people on this thread, but I always wonder how the “childbirth is a woman’s brigade” would feel if females across the land came out and said, “Y’know what? You’re right. We’re becoming antinatalists.”

2) However much the gol’ darn fees are, this debate should be accompanied by a questioning of the value of degrees. It’s lame to insist that everyone should have the choice but then promote the thing as damn-near inevitable.

I’m not so sure about this. Tuition fee debt, due to the repayment terms, is very odd debt. Once you’ve accumulated enough that under the Browne plans at least a penny is getting written off after 30 years, it doesn’t matter how much extra student loan/tuition fee debt you obtain, because you won’t be paying that back either.

Career breaks, part-time work, lower pay, etc. all reduce the amount of debt that gets paid back, but since the repayments are proportional to income over 21k, rather than the amount owed, that doesn’t matter either.

And since the Browne review means that tuition fees will be raised to a level where all but the richest graduates are unable to pay off the entire debt, it stops mattering. It becomes functionally equivalent to a temporary extra income tax band starting at 21k.

If you work part-time, or get paid less, or take a few years of career break, all that happens is that you pay back less of the loan. There’s a lot of things I’m worried about with the Browne review, but the student finance terms are I think a significant improvement on the current situation.

Speaking of part-time, remember that Browne proposes providing financial support for people studying part-time, so people wanting to combine childcare work or part-time paid employment with a degree will find it easier to do so.

Unlike most of what we’ve seen from the government, I think these proposals will – assuming no significant change in distribution of childcare responsibilities or pay differentials – actually be better for women than for men on average.

the legal maternity and paternity allowances need to change so that they are more equal, as in scandinavian countries. that way, women would not be penalised for having babies, because men would be equally seen as parents and just as responsible for the raising of children as mothers. this would also end discrimination against women ‘of childbearing age’ who don’t want to have children – see alan sugar’s comments that no one would hire a woman of child bearing age as she would be too big a risk. if men took more than 2 weeks off too, then it would be equally ‘risky’. it works in other countries. why not here? why don’t we value families and parents and children?

the problem lies in that we see child rearing as the responsibility of mothers and this is enshrined in our completely unequal parental leave systems. if men were expected to take career breaks as well, then this gap may narrow.

so many people write as if it is women’s fault that when they have babies they have to take time off work. yet working mothers are regularly vilified by the right wing press. and at the moment, it is only mothers who are legally given time off work!
all the people who say women should not choose to have babies if they don’t want to be penalised, i say, ok, lets all stop having babies. and then we’ll see who will be looking after you/funding your pensions in your old age.

“the fact is that on average a woman in this country earns 16.4% less than her male equivalent.”

No, it isn’t. The average woman earns less than the average man, true, but that is not the same as saying that the average woman is “the equivalent” of the average man.

We know, for example, that higher investment in human capital (otherwise known as “education”) increases wages.

As if and when the average woman has made the same investment in education as the average man then we can start (using just this one measure, there are others to take into account) to call them “equivalent”.

The average woman who is now 40, or 50, or 60, will never of course make the same investment in education as their male age cohort did.

The more recent age cohort, those now in their mid to late 20s, they have made the same investment (actually, more than, female graduation rates are now higher than male).

And what do we see? A large gender pay gap between those in their 40s, 50s and 60s and no gender pay gap among those in their 20s. In fact, among single childless people it’s in favour of the women.

So your primary statement, that the overall, average gender pay gap, measures different pay for “equivalent” men and women is simply wrong.

“Furthermore, in almost every sector, we see an inequality of pay between the genders for doing the same job.”

No, we don’t actually. Quite apart from the fact that doing so is illegal. For “the same job” there is pretty much no gender pay gap at all. There are a few areas where they are obvious: hard manual labour, not surprisingly, pays the male physique more than the female. Nursing pays women more than it does men (both calculated by looking at average male pay for x and average female pay for x).

so you seem to be basing your complaint on an ignorance of what the gender pay gap actually is: not a good starting point really.

17. Richard Morris

Tim @ 16.

While you are quite right that for the under 30’s, the inequality gap is lower – it most definitely still exists. Follow this link for details.

http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/key-projects/triennial-review/online-summary/employment/

As to you other point – yes, it’s illegal, but still goes on – here’s a link that summarises it rather neatly.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11015445

Hope that helps clarify the facts for you

Snigger. That BBC link is trying to claim that “all female managers” and “all male managers” are doing exactly the same job.

Tosh.

That’s like saying that Sir Phillip Green and the bloke running your local neighborhood “Kozzies for Kiddies” are both doing the same job: they’re both managing retail clothes outlets aren’t they? and should thus be paid the same.

As for the EHRC, sorry, but you simply cannot believe any gender pay gap statistics from them. You do remember when the head of he staistics authority told them to stop mangling those statistics, don’t you? You know, in diplomatic language, to stop lying?

19. John Meredith

“As to you other point – yes, it’s illegal, but still goes on”

If it did, in any systematic way, someone would make themselves fantastically rich by exploiting the fact, which would, of course have the effect of closing the gap. Why would an investment bank hire men if they could get the same performance from women for lower pay?

Nicely put.

Okay, I think the frothing about “gender pay gap” is mostly (at best) evidenceless, but…

John Meredith (#19); it might (!) be that investments banks aren’t managed by entirely rational people.

@1:

this is particularly true regarding childrearing it seems to me. the right wing press delight in painting childless women as awful people who are selfish and think designer shoes are more important than babies.

If someone gets their values from the right wing press (or left wing press, for that matter), that’s their mistake right there!

People shouldn’t let themselves be brainwashewd by the media. Instead, they should say “I decide my own values. I know and accept that whatever my values and lifestyle are, there will be both good and bad points to it, and I accept both. I don’t pretend to myself that there are no tradeoffs.”

@8 Paul Saga: Cue boring cry of “it’s biology maaaan”, which of course anyone with a brain sees that post-birth is nonsense as men can – and frequently do – rear children showing that this is not a female-only ability/practice.

No-one sensible denies that men can, and frequently do, rear children.

But neither does no-one sensible deny that women, on average, have more desire to do so than men.

@19 John Meredith: If it did, in any systematic way, someone would make themselves fantastically rich by exploiting the fact, which would, of course have the effect of closing the gap.

Incidently, savvy companies in the Arabian peninsula do exactly that, to the extent that a company with lots of female managers is seen as being more competently run than a company without.

25. Peter Charnley

The obsession with equality is fundamentally and eternally flawed because it is based upon the pseudo gospel of complete interchangeable and androgynous equality between men and woman at every stage in life and covering the entire spectrum, reaching into every remote alcove, of the working environment.

Almost 100% of people killed or seriously injured whilst carrying out the demands of dangerous (and therefore, usually and deservedly, better paid) occupations are male. The vast majority of people who are willing (or, significantly, simply able) to do many of those jobs are male. Women give birth, men don’t. Instinctively, far more women than men feel (and will always feel) a strong innate desire to intimately care for their offspring in a manner and for a period that, by definition, will inevitably overshadow their career for a significant period of their potential working lives (and any feminist or neo-marxist Leftist who denies this is merely reciting a very tired and dishonest lie).

There are several other factors that render, as a brazen myth, the assertion that prejudice is the cause of the male/female pay gap. I cannot elaborate here.

Lastly as a reposte to the lead article and to yet another attempted entry onto the very long list of the causes of supposed female victimhood. All changes that have taken place within our education system over the past twenty to thirty years, in the name of an openly declared policy of favouring females, primarily stimulating their interests, and improving their performance, have actually singnificantly lowered the standards of intellectual input, output and of expectation for all – and, most disturbingly, in a manner that has overtly and very badly damaged the education and lives of huge numbers of young men. I speak as an ex-teacher.

Professor Howard S. Schwartz of Oakland Uinversity, Michigan, USA once said:-

“I have no doubt that, someday, the distortions of the truth by the radical feminists of our time will eventually be seen as having been the greatest intellectual crime of the second half of the twentieth century. Meanwhile, we still live under the aegis of that crime, and to call attention to it is an act of great moral courage”.

The writer of the lead article, Richard Morris, is clearly either one of that now very large legion of the brainwashed that presently operates within the feminist dominated media. Or he is someone without courage who, as they say, ‘knows the baloney but wants the space’.

Very sad indeed.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Why higher tuition fees will hurt women more http://bit.ly/arlPo2

  2. Elly

    http://bit.ly/arlPo2 getting a bit tired of 'cuts will hurt women more than men' discourse. HOW? what about the women who live with men?

  3. Elly

    http://bit.ly/arlPo2 and when it comes to graduates class/economic background all play a part. Binary gender arguments are ridiculous

  4. andrew dalby

    RT @quietriot_girl: http://bit.ly/arlPo2 getting a bit tired of 'cuts will hurt women more '. HOW? what about the women who live with men?

  5. LMS

    RT @libcon: Why higher tuition fees will hurt women more http://bit.ly/arlPo2

  6. sianushka

    RT @libcon: Why higher tuition fees will hurt women more http://bit.ly/arlPo2

  7. CathElliott

    RT @libcon: Why higher tuition fees will hurt women more http://bit.ly/arlPo2

  8. Jamie Potter

    Good point: Pay gap means women will be worse off with new tuition fees http://bit.ly/97Da31

  9. Hazico_Jo

    RT @libcon: Why higher tuition fees will hurt women more http://bit.ly/arlPo2

  10. NUS Student Media

    RT @libcon: Why higher tuition fees will hurt women more http://bit.ly/arlPo2

  11. Claudia Crawley

    Why higher tuition fees will hurt women more | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/1Gn6I5G via @libcon

  12. NuttyNatter

    RT @libcon: Why higher tuition fees will hurt women more http://bit.ly/arlPo2

  13. Susan Nash

    RT @libcon: Why higher tuition fees will hurt women more http://bit.ly/arlPo2

  14. Ritu Bhanot

    RT @libcon: Why higher tuition fees will hurt women more http://bit.ly/arlPo2

  15. MasterPM

    Why higher tuition fees will hurt women more | Liberal Conspiracy http://bit.ly/9EyFRY

  16. tom serona

    Why higher tuition fees will hurt women more | Liberal Conspiracy: Add in factors like the fact that often women c… http://bit.ly/cB4Guc

  17. Jason Reich

    Why higher tuition fees will hurt women more http://bit.ly/9idLeU

  18. Laura Purll

    RT @libcon: Why higher tuition fees will hurt women more http://bit.ly/arlPo2

  19. christytj

    Why higher tuition fees will hurt women more http://bit.ly/a6pLGZ #education #women #fem2

  20. JRF

    Article from the UK about higher tuition fees being more harmful to women than men – definitely applies here too http://bit.ly/a6pLGZ

  21. Marla Nelson

    Why higher tuition fees will hurt women more http://goo.gl/4jJ0





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