The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Newspaper columnists don’t need facts!

Monday 16 October 2006 at 11:39 pm

Being, as I am, behind schedule with draft writing (anyone care to concoct some sources on APEC for me?), I don’t really have time to post anything comprehensive. But I will rant briefly about a ridiculous opinion piece by Bettina Arndt in today’s West Australian, reprinted from the Herald Sun.

The first sign of trouble is when she starts talking about the average earnings data from the Bureau of Statistics — specifically, about wage inequality by sex — and casts doubt over the figures. I have a degree in pure maths, and I’d dare not question ABS findings, least not without some awfully solid evidence. But of course, Arndt doesn’t need any qualifications to denounce the comparison data as “meaningless”.

Later, she makes the sharp-as-a-bowling-ball observation that women, as a group, spend fewer hours in paid work than men. She also enlightens us with the discovery that they tend not to go into technical or construction jobs. But apparently this is perfectly normal … it’s not like there are any social factors keeping women out of science and engineering or anything. No, really.

She offers barely half a dozen words each to mention “glass ceilings” and “second shifts”. And so she should — after all, it’s not like there’s very many women out there who have to work fewer hours because of an unequal distribution of household labour. And on that note, I suppose I shouldn’t call it household labour, because Aunt Bettina tells us that women have fewer work hours than men, full stop. I guess those women do it for cheap thrills, or something.

I really need to stop expecting any kind of insightfulness when I open that newspaper …