Written by Dotty Winters


Bridge the gap

Women who dare to have children are still risky to employers. Hmm. How are we going to sort populating the planet? Dotty Winters has some innovative solutions of her own. Great British Breed Off, anyone?

zebra and baby zebra

A zebra, refusing to comment on her post-motherhood pay packet.

Recently the Institute for Fiscal Studies announced the thoroughly unsurprising news that UK mothers earn less per hour after having a baby. The study reveals that over the 12 years after they have a baby, mothers’ hourly pay rate falls 33 per cent behind men’s.

Some of this gap is explained by differences in hourly rates for part-time work (which is still an issue we need to correct), but this doesn’t explain all of the gap.

It feels like this is an issue we’ve been trying to fix for quite a long time, and, given that we live in a comparatively rich and privileged country and still haven’t cracked it, perhaps it is time to consider some new approaches. I think I’ve narrowed it down to our main options:


Perhaps it is time to innovate repopulation. Cloning technology is improving all the time (I know, because I’ve seen Orphan Black). ‘Going forward’ we are going to choose one perfect hybrid and then mass-produce the next generation. Because we are a democracy, we can vote on what we need to include in the recipe.

I’m going to propose:

• Baking skills, smile and facial expressions from Bake-Off’s Nadiya
• Passion for science and 90s dance music from Brian Cox
• Throwing shade skills from Mary Poppins
• Witty comebacks from Judge Rinder
• Sunny disposition from Kimmy Schmidt
• Thoughts and words from Maya Angelou
• Resilience in the face of criticism from Kanye West

Sure, cloning is pretty complex, but can it really be more complex than doing a simple check to make sure you aren’t making pay decisions based on gender? Doubt it.


Let’s bring back National Service for all, but conscript them into childcare facilities rather than warzones. All of the advantages of conscription (learn about discipline and survival in the face of terrifying combatants) but a bit less war-mongery.

“Has the Institute For Fiscal Studies had to issue any press release to announce a pay gap for X-Factor contestants who don’t make it out of bootcamp? Didn’t think so.”

Everyone leaves school, completes basic training (face paint camouflage, wriggling through ball pools and running in formation while chanting nursery rhymes), then undertakes a tour of duty in a children’s nursery. This approach would be character-building for our nation’s young people, and a great source of very low cost childcare. Conscientious objectors can serve in doggy daycare.

Reality TV

Clearly we don’t value mothers. Historically we have also undervalued mediocre singers, half-hearted quick steppers and the ability to eat exotic testicles, until reality TV showed us the error of our ways. With the right production team and enough rags to riches stories, we can make parenthood glam again.

Has the Institute For Fiscal Studies had to issue any press release to announce a pay gap for X-Factor contestants who don’t make it out of bootcamp? Didn’t think so. We need The Great British Breed Off. Imagine how much innuendo that wouldn’t need (In YOUR end-o).

Level the playing field

Employers seem concerned about employing people who may, in future, want to take time off. We can eradicate this perceived gender risk by simply allowing any working person to take up to a year off on the same payment terms as maternity leave, regardless of age, gender or children.

In this new model we’d all get to do this three times. People who don’t do it are weird. All employees would then pose exactly the same ‘risk’ to employers and we all get to decide whether we want to have children or sleep more (which is already exactly the choice many parents make). Wanna travel the Cotswolds in a campervan with your cat? You got it sister.

Let the human race die out

Folks, we gave it a good try, but even in the UK where we have more wealth and opportunities than lots of other places we can’t stop accidentally losing 33 per cent of some people’s hourly wage down the back of their vaginas. Maybe it’s time to let zebras give it a go? Bring on the barcodes.


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Written by Dotty Winters

Nascent stand-up, fan of fancy words, purveyor of occasional wrongness, haphazard but enthusiastic parent, science-fan, apprentice-feminist.