Did you spot the gender pay gaps figures released this week? It would have been difficult to miss them: they were on every news channel, every newspaper, radio and youtube commentator’s channel. By common agreement, there is a Gender Pay Gap. That basically means that the average of all the women’s salaries within a company is less than the average of all the men’s salaries within the same company. That’s mean averages, as in the add them up and divide them average we use most. It’s skewed so much because the top earners in many companies earn so much more than the average worker in the company, and most of those top earners are men.
If you take a different average (yes, there’s more than one way to do averages. Crazy, I know) like the median average, the pay gap drops. The median average is the one you would get if you lined all the wages up in a row and found the one in the middle. In most companies, the gap grows distinctly less because it takes account of the extremes and focuses on the medium of the wage range. So there isn’t a Gender Pay Gap.
Well, yes, there is. There’s a missing layer of women in our world. For whatever reasons, there aren’t as many women in the top paying positions in our companies as there should be. This isn’t a peculiarly British thing, either. In Sweden, the fourth most gender-equal society in the world, there is a pay gap driven by similar circumstances. In Iceland, often hailed as the most gender equal country in the world, they have introduced legislation making it the company’s responsibility to ensure equal pay for equal work, rather than the employee having to complain, ask or threaten tribunal action. As one person phrased it, it became like a Health and Safety violation, just one more thing the company should check on.
So why are so many women not getting the top job? There are a lot of reasons that all build up: perhaps there is an inbuilt resistence to promoting women, a bias against mothers, a societal expectation that the Top Team will be men. Perhaps the choice of careers most women make don’t come with big pay packets, perhaps they choose not to be ambitious themselves. You can read many views on the Pay Gap online, just click and look. From ‘feminazis’ arguing patriarchal subjugation to ‘alt-feminists’ arguing choice and education. It is a veritable rabbit hole of arguments that will have you chasing that white tail all day.
What has this got to do with hygge, though? Well, in my life I have been a teacher, a mother, a teaching assistant and now an Office Ninja. I’ve never made mega-bucks. I know the Gender Pay Gap at the firm I work at now would be immense, if it were made public (there’s only 2 of us: me on the front desk and the Solicitor. His wage is more than mine for sure: he’s the one that makes the money). I don’t care. I’m not chasing power or money. I’m chasing happiness. I want the world to let people achieve what they are capable of, I want a world where a woman can become Prime Minister or lead a top FTSE100 company, but I don’t want to be that woman.
Success comes in many different forms. If we measure it only by the value of a pay packet, then we miss out on the success that I seek: to be content with my life and to have an impact on the future. To help those around me to think about life and to choose what they believe about it, whether they become feminists or patriarchal slaves. I want a job that is flexible enough to let me take time off for a sick guinea pig, let me write books at my desk and lets me book time off to see my parents. I’ve done the nine-to-five as a teacher, and I’ve seen the children in after school club waiting for their parents to rescue them. I wanted my children to have a Mum who greeted them from school, with a smile and a drink and was there to ask. As they get older, they need me less and I work longer hours some days, but I also finish early on others. I have time to relax and hygge with friends, and time to hygge by myself.
I suspect there are many women like me, who don’t subscribe to the worldly expectations of success. Women who chose a path that wasn’t ever going to set them on the path to be the Boss, but who did the work because it paid enough, or the hours were good, or it gave just that degree of flexibility they needed. Is it a bad choice? No. But neither is chasing your dream career. It’s just different.
I wonder if we celebrate difference enough in this world? I worry that the expectations of society are becoming increasingly limited. You must work to earn the most money you can, you must chase worldly success, you must feel this or think that. The world is too demanding. I want a world where the poet and the engineer can live in peace, accepting their differences (including of pay packet: the world is a market economy, after all) and both see the value in the other. A world where the mother at home can meet the female manager in work and not seek self-validation at the cost of the other’s feelings. Provided you’re supporting yourself, supporting your family and doing no harm, then why be angry at other people’s choices? We all walk the path we choose. Why not support each other on the way?
And for fun:
Part of my path that I tread is as a writer. I live in as hyggely a way as I can, and write about that on my blog and in my books. My books have ideas that are good for hygge all year round, and are all available from Amazon. How to Hygge Your Summer, in Paperback and Kindle form, has lots of good ideas for the months ahead. Hygge is an all-year-round feeling, you see. 50 Ways to Hygge the British Way is available in Paperback and Kindle version and Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas was released in September 2017 and is available again in paperback and ebook version. I’m currently working on my next book, Ways to Be Happier which I hope will be ready sometime during May this year.
If you purchase anything through the links on this page, I get a couple of pence extra per copy, and if you’ve already read my books and enjoyed them, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads.
****How to Hygge the British Way Blog isn’t monetised. I have taken the decision that I want to remain neutral and not to promote things just because. I will only ever review items that I have bought myself, or that I think will help to promote hygge in a busy life. To do this, I need support. Even just the price of a coffee adds up to a book over time, and it means I can stay independent. Would you help?
I have a Patreon Page that (I think) means you can pay me for products you have enjoyed. You can find me at https://www.patreon.com/hyggejem. I think you click through and then you can pay per blog post or page content. I’m still getting to grips with it, so please be patient.
If you’d rather make a one-off donation, please consider clicking through to my Paypal donation page, paypal.me/HyggeJem and leaving even a small amount. I’d be very grateful. Every penny I make from the blog and books goes towards books, films and homemaking to create a hygge home for me, the guinea pigs and the kids. Thank you.***