Lorely Burt was elected a Lib Dem MP in 2010, with a majority of 172 votes. Three months ago I had the pleasure of telling her in the course of a BBC radio discussion that she was talking rubbish about the gender pay gap. For a woman with such a slim majority, she was surprisingly snide about hard-working men.
Keen to prove Burt’s stupidity to a wider audience, the government today published The Burt Report: Inclusive Support for Women in Enterprise. I’ve only speed-read it, but that was enough to make me wonder if Burt manages to put her bra on the right way round every morning. From p.6:
The European Institute for Gender Equality argues that bringing in more women entrepreneurs would ‘increase the quantity and quality of the business population’.
Women tend to bring different skills to the table, including
• Strong listening skills
• Greater empathy and patience
• Willingness to understand the perspectives of others when making decisions
• A longer term view promoting sustainability and talent development
This manifests itself in real business success: better understanding of diverse customers; combating groupthink; preparing for risk; and increasing returns on equity.
Yes, you read that right. ‘Increasing returns on equity’. A clear assertion of a causal link which nobody – including intelligent people, unlike Ms Burt – has yet found any evidence for. Then we have this gem:
Research has found that raising the level of women’s employment to the same as men’s could lift GDP by 10% by 2030.
The prospect of raising GDP by 10% by 2030 will surely be a huge motivator for the women who’d rather be spending less time in paid employment, and more time with their children, wider families, and friends. Politicians talk and write as if Catherine Hakim’s Preference Theory had never been published. On p.20 we see this:
Many senior stakeholders and entrepreneurs kindly allowed me to interview them while I was in the process of researching this report. During these interviews they were asked to suggest particular challenges facing women entrepreneurs.
The #1 ‘particular challenge facing women entrepreneurs’ was:
Lack of self-confidence.
Clearly this is a challenge which has never faced male entrepreneurs, and needs ever more government initiatives to sort out. My head hurts.