JUST when big bosses thought all the commotion about the gender pay gap was dying down, this week saw a new rumble from another brave woman who is angry about being shortchanged.
The latest instalment of the saga, in which women are somehow seen as less valuable than men, took place when a BBC manager turned down a promotion after discovering she was offered £12,000 less than a man doing exactly the same job.
Facebook Karen Martin, a BBC manager and mother of two, is the perfect example of the courage we need to bring about change
So she tried to get her employer to equalise her salary and they upped their offer a bit, but there was still a £7,000 disparity.
So Karen Martin, a radio producer and news editor, sent an email to colleagues explaining that she couldn’t accept the role of deputy editor in the radio newsroom after learning that a man, appointed at the same time, had been offered a higher wage.
To a degree, of course, it’s up to the individual to negotiate their salary. And if you are paid less than someone else because they are better than you then that is OK. But that is apparently not the case here.
“Despite being awarded the same job, on the same day, after the same board, during the same recruitment process, BBC News asked me to accept a considerably lower salary than my male counterpart. A lot less,” Karen told colleagues by email.
‘VERY WELL DESERVED’
“I’ve been assured our roles and responsibilities are the same. I’ve also been told my appointment was ‘very well deserved’. It’s just that I’m worth £12,000 less.
“Over the past four months I have asked BBC News to think again. And they’ve inched their offer up . . . now the gap is nearer to £7,000. But for me it has never been about the actual salary. It has been about equal pay.”
She also said she had turned down the job on principle after discussing the matter with her young daughters, which led her to conclude that she must “stand up for what is right”.
And, to my mind, that is the real nub of this story.
Her two daughters, aged seven and 13, said this to her: “You always tell us to stand up for what is right. If it means less pocket money or not going on holiday, we don’t mind.
What matters to us is that when we grow up, we want to be paid the same as a man for the same job.”
Getty – Contributor The BBC have renegotiated her deal but the pay gap is still near to £7,000
How poignant — and how powerful. Sometimes you have to see things through the eyes of children to realise there is only one course of action.
It makes me think of that phrase: Strong women — may we know them, may we be them, and may we raise them.
Well, Karen is certainly raising them. And her brave decision means that her children won’t be as subservient as the women of our generation.
To an extent, women have always just accepted the status quo when it comes to men being paid more. But that’s changing
Still, what Karen did by refusing the job and sending that email is brave. Most people don’t like to rock the boat, which sometimes means we accept things that should be unacceptable.
And women, especially mothers, are often so grateful to have a job that they don’t question it. That’s especially the case for single working mums, as Karen is.
MAKES BLOOD BOIL
Most single working mums simply can’t afford not to work, so they put up and shut up. But that expectation that women should accept less than they are worth makes my blood boil.
Can you imagine, by the way, if it had emerged that men were routinely being paid less than women? Would we ever hear the end of it?
Not until equality came. So maybe we all need to think like men for a bit.
By rocking the boat, Karen is taking one for the team. She will be no doubt be seen as a troublemaker by some potential employers. But it’s not until people make stands like this that change happens.
Despite the furore, the gender pay gap is still everywhere, and it’s not until people say, “No more” that things will change. The bottom line is that women need to start feeling a bit more entitled.
We need to know our worth and not be afraid to ask for it. Because the sad truth is that people will pay you less than you are worth if they can get away with it. So let’s not be muggins enough to accept it, eh?
Hate for Gary is cooked up
HAVE you been following the story of chef Gary Usher, who was asked by a homeless man called Derick if he had any jobs in his restaurant?
He offered Derick a job as a kitchen porter. And then tweeted about it because he was happy to have done a good deed.
Twitter/StickyWalnut Gary Usher hired a homelesss man and has been roundly vilified for what was evidently a kind-hearted gesture
His tweet then went viral. And then suddenly people started accusing him of exploiting homeless people to publicise his restaurant.
But given the fact that Usher has declined every single one of the many invitations he has had to go on TV to talk about this story that is so patently untrue.
And also, regardless of whether he publicised it or not, there is no doubt that he did a good thing.
Still, he has been roundly vilified for what was evidently a kind-hearted gesture.
Social media has made us into a nation of cynics and critics. The saying “no good deed goes unpunished” seems very true on this occasion.
A good ‘nite for Benjy
LOTS of teenagers will no doubt be envious to hear about Benjy Fish, the 15-year-old from Middlesex who has dropped out of school after being encouraged by his mother – to become a professional gamer.
Benjy, who has so far earned £25,000 playing Fortnite, is ranked among the best in the world.
Instagram Benjy Fish, 15, dropped out of school to pursue a career in professional gaming
And he has guaranteed himself another £50,000 by qualifying for this year’s Fortnite World Cup, which boasts a prize pool of £23million.
He’ll be competing at the event in New York this July, which may sound like the dream for some, and I wish him all the best.
But has any parent ever uttered the words: “I hope my son quits school at 15 to become a professional gamer”? I seriously doubt it.
Old pal’s a perfect date for Davina
NO doubt the critics will line up to bemoan the fact that Davina McCall is dating again after her divorce from Matthew Robertson.
She is seeing her long-term friend and hairdresser, Michael Douglas, who she has known for more than 20 years.
Splash News Davina McCall is dating stylist Michael Douglas
All I can think about is just how daunting it must be to put yourself “out there” and start dating again after 17 years of marriage and three kids.
Add to that the burden of being famous, which makes it hard to join Tinder (even if she wanted to, which, let’s face it, she probably doesn’t).
But we should all wish Davina well – good for her for giving herself another chance at happiness and finding love again. She turned 51 in October and has got a whole new chapter of her life to live. Why should that be alone?
Divorcees out there should take heart. You are entitled to happiness. You might just want to go and have a bit of fun by putting yourself out there without waiting for Mr Perfect.
Or the love of your life might already be under your nose, like Davina’s hairdresser.
What could be better than getting together with an old friend, because he knows the real her. But also, possibly best of all, no more bad hair days.
Sharon and Alessandra stunned at Cannes
I HAVE no idea what is being shown at the Cannes Film Festival – these days it’s much more about the red-carpet dresses than the actual movies.
And wow, were there some dresses this year.
Rex Features Alessandra Ambrosio, 38, rocked the little red number as she sizzled in Cannes
Getty – Contributor Sharon Stone, 61, attended the De Grisogono party in a stunning red dress
Alessandra Ambrosio, 38, and Sharon Stone, 61, dazzled in little red numbers.
The most amazing thing is that there is 23 years between them. What is Sharon Stone’s secret? She never ages.
Weed did not help Jasmine
SO sad reading about Jasmine Bush, the 16-year old schoolgirl who threw herself in front of a train on the day she was due to receive the grades for her GCSEs in 2017.
She had been suffering with various mental health issues, including anxiety, and had been on medication to help control the symptoms.
ExclusiveHUG IT OUT Sex-positive journalist says cuddling DESTROYS sex lives… and she should know ‘IT MAKES ME CRY’ My £1k wig hides grey, broken hair – and here’s what I REALLY look like ExclusiveSaturday night divas BGT’s Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon talk vowing to be friends and THOSE Ofcom complaints CommentGEORGETTE CULLEY We salute the Wonderbra for making every woman feel like Wonder Woman CommentDEBORAH JAMES Rachael died of cancer she didn’t ‘lose a battle’, she’s taught me how to die CommentDEBORAH JAMES Cancer can kill you, but if it doesn’t it can kill your dreams of having kids
But she had also been smoking marijuana to relieve anxiety symptoms. Except it clearly had the opposite effect. This story is every parent’s nightmare.
Smoking weed is seen as innocent and has been normalised by the fact that “everyone does it”. But it is illegal for a reason.
Marijuana is known to make people paranoid and, far from curing anxiety, it exacerbates it. We should bring back that old campaign: “Just say no.”
Dua Lipa wears an eye-catching red dress at amfAR red carpet in Cannes