Philobiblon: Polly Tonybee has a blog ...

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Polly Tonybee has a blog ...

... or at least she is writing on one of the Guardian's. Who'd have thought it?

And she makes a very good point: if women rush out of being nursing aides and into plumbing, who is going to do the nursing? A lot of the answer has to be more than a simple rebalancing; rather it has to be the allocation of a lot more money.

But the elephant is this: women are lower paid than men because the work they do is undervalued. Why should the valuable work a woman does caring for small children in a nursery or looking after the bedridden in a nursing home be rewarded at a far lower rate than, say, a lorry driver? Pay rates are set by pure tradition and prejudice, nothing to do with skill and certainly not social value.
If women all do as they are instructed, retrain and move "upwards" to higher paid work, then who will clean the hospital floors, take classroom assistant jobs and serve in restaurants? Presumably yet another wave of new immigrants, destined to be just as poor, and probably mainly women too in these service sector jobs. It is no answer to gross inequality. The only answer is to pay people fairly.

It is pleasing to see that the report about women's pay deficit - still 17 per cent below men's, which is costing the country £23bn a year has been getting a lot of attention.
Elsewhere, the Pergamon Museum in Berlin which I recall as being spectacularly wonderful when I visited some 15 years ago, is to get a major revamp:
The neoclassical museum will gain a new wing during the overhaul, which will cost a maximum of €351m (£240m) and be financed by the federal government....
The new fourth wing, which will be built across the entrance to the museum's massive courtyard, "will allow us to show all major cultures on a single level," Klaus Dieter Lehmann, the head of Berlin's Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, told a press conference yesterday. "You will then have, on one level, everything from Mesopotamia, through Egypt, Greece, Rome and classical antiquity up to the Islamic era."

I can feel a trip to Berlin coming on ...


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