Mike Hosking & Dr Jordan Peterson on the gender pay gap & our values


Clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson. Photo / Getty Images

Newstalk ZB audio starts at 8:57

Mike

Just to bring everybody up to speed, part of your fame or infamy has come from a Channel 4 interview in which you? I don?t know if you want to use the word clash, but anyway the interviewer was asking you about the pay gap, the gender pay gap. Oh, which is a big issue in this country. Ah? and what she couldn?t understand is she kept arguing that averaged out there was a nine percent pay gap. And averaged out, there probably is a nine percent pay gap. But what you were arguing is there is no point in averaging anything out because it doesn?t deal with individual circumstances. And she couldn?t or wouldn?t understand that.

Jordan

Well it undermines her entire ideological agenda, which is the idea that there is something fundamentally oppressive about the way the culture is set up and that you can attribute everything like the pay gap to that oppression. And that?s simply not the case. So for example, we know that men work longer hours and that if you work ten percent longer hours you make forty percent more money and men work outside and there is a pay increment for that and they work more dangerous jobs and they work in fields like the stem fields that pay more and that can be scaled much more easily than, say, healthcare jobs and they?re much less likely to work part time. And so, these are all small factors but when you add them up, they more than account for the pay gap difference.

Mike

Which is not to say that there are probably some women who are oppressed and there might well be sexism in the workplace and they are held back because they?re women, doesn?t mean it?s universal or on average.

Jordan

No, well discrimination is always a factor that you would take into account if you conducted the equations properly but I also think that that?s self-limiting and self-punishing because companies that under-utilise the pool of talent that presents itself to them are definitely going to suffer a competitive disadvantage in the market.

And most companies I know that are thriving do absolutely everything they possibly can to keep their high-end women, but have a very difficult time doing so when women hit their thirties for obvious reasons. And it isn?t, by the way, a gender pay gap difference, it?s a pay gap difference between mothers and non-mothers. And that?s a very different issue.  

And we don?t really know how to deal with that because it turns out that raising children is very difficult and expensive and it isn?t a problem that we have an easy solution for. So, you don?t want that much state intervention in the home and it?s generally the case that parents, mothers in particular, especially for very young children, want to spend a lot of time with their children. And far more than they think, often, when they first undertake to have young infants.

Mike

The other argument we have here is the percentage of women, for example, on boards. And my argument is that many women don?t want to be on a board and that being on a board is seen as the epitome and the ultimate of success and therefore most women have worked out, probably quite rightly, that being on the board isn?t the ultimate of anything, it?s just being on a board. And therefore, they don?t present themselves therefore statistically there aren?t as many to choose from, therefore statistically they don?t get as many women on boards.

Jordan

Yes, well that?s a very good point is that many of the positions that we are elevating in this particular discourse to the highest level of attainment aren?t necessarily properly considered in that light. And so, it?s also the case that in the Scandinavian countries where the gender equality on board representation has been mandated, it?s had absolutely no effect whatsoever on the proportion of women in management positions farther down the road because it isn?t a problem.

Mike

Exactly so when they say more women on boards, more women running companies, more women running things, makes for better things or companies or boards, is that true or not?

Jordan

I would say it?s true insofar as um? companies that have been actively discriminating against women stop doing that to some degree, because it expands their talent pool, but the idea that there?s something intrinsically economically valuable about having women per se, rather than men doing a particular task, I don?t think there?s any evidence for that whatsoever. I think all that evidence is gerrymandered by people who have a political agenda. It?s talent that you want and talent is fundamentally? I mean this is basically the claim of people who aren?t prejudiced, right? Fundamentally talent is independent of immutable features.

Mike

Exactly. Exactly right. So, if we don?t follow your 12 rules and if we see you as a pariah and the purveyor of nothing but trouble, where is the world going?

Jordan

Well, I mean mostly what I?m doing is trying to encourage people to take as much individual responsibility for their lives and their families lives and their community lives as possible and also to view themselves as the sorts of creatures who are capable of and also responsible for doing that as sovereign individuals and as people with a spark of divinity in them that can manifest itself properly in the world and I think if we lose that, we lose everything of value because I don?t see that you can have a proper relationship with yourself without that or with anyone else or set up a society that?s functional over the long run without those fundamental principles intact. It?s very dangerous to lose that because you slip into a foolish collectivism where your collective identity is paramount and there?s nothing but unbelievable trouble that comes from that, as we know full well from the 20th century. ?

Mike

Great to meet you, have a very good stay in New Zealand.

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