Laurie Taylor

July 27, 2001

Morning, Charles.

Morning, Geoffrey.

Good news then. Looks as though we might all be in for a nice little pay rise.

How's that?

Haven't you read about it? The government is allocating about £330 million over the next three years to improving university salaries.

Ah yes, but haven't you also read the letter that the AUT is sending out to all vice-chancellors urging them to spend the bulk of that allocation on levelling the pay gap between male and female academics?

What gap?

It's about 16 per cent. The average academic salary for men is £32,4, but for women it's only £,240. That's £5,000 less. So multiply £5,000 by the number of female academics and bang goes most of your £330 million.

That's absolutely outrageous!

Well, I suppose you've got to put yourself in their place. Imagine being a woman and having to run a home and possibly a family on £5,000 a year less than we get.

Really, old chap, that's appallingly ad hominem. Concentrate on the logic of the situation. Female academics are earning less because they're not so far up the pay scales or because they don't hold senior positions. And why are they in that situation? It's the rational outcome of a series of objective decisions made by appointments and promotions committees. You can't now arbitrarily reverse all those carefully calculated decisions by handing out lumps of money to women simply because they're women.

But surely most members of appointments and promotions committees are men?

What's that got to do with it?

Well, couldn't it be that they've come to their decisions about the proper pay for women simply because they're men?

What sort of argument is that?

I suppose you might call it ad hominem.

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