Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Andrei Stats show little difference between male and female sick days - really?

In June 2010 the New Zealand public Service had 44,554 employees (full time equivalents). Of these 18,938 were male, 25,605 were female and there was 1 of unknown gender (only one - my we are backward).

According to the PSA there is "little difference" in statistics between male and females in terms of sick days. That being 6.8 sick days on average for males per annum compared to 8.4 days for females.

Therefore, stay with me here, there would have been 6.8* 18,938=128,778 days lost through male ill health in the public service last year or 352 man years of lost productivity.

And for females there would have been 8.6*25,605= 220,203 days lost through female ill health or 603 women years of lost productivity.

As an exercise for the reader we leave the calculation of how much smaller the Public Service could be if it only employed males.

Aint numbers fun.

Postscript: I'm sure it would be ridiculously easy to find a female public servant who had had no time off last year and a male public servant who had had many days.

That's the thing about statistics they tell you nothing about individuals on an individual basis. But people fling them about with gay abandon if they advance their agendas - you know things like unnecessary and intrusive amendments to laws to address a supposed "gender gap" in salaries.

6 comment(s):

David Winter said...

Of course, a more sane way to look at numbers would be to ask how much less time the average women spends at work than the average man.

If there are 229 working days (11 holidays and 4 weeks leave) that means your average man is at work 222.2 days a year and woman 220.4.

99.2% as often as the average bloke - the difference really is meaningless when it comes to explaining the pay gap.

Andrei said...

99.2% as often as the average bloke - the difference really is meaningless when it comes to explaining the pay gap.

If you say so David,just as the punters expectation of
-.053% on the roulette wheel doesn't really go towards explaining the profitability of casinos.

David Winter said...

the expected house edge is ~5% and that wouldn't go very far to explaining a much larger edge, now would it?

Andrei said...

David I thought you were smarter than that.

Listen: When choosing who to promote to a higher position you might want to look into each candidates reliability as demonstrated by their attendance at work. Whether or not the individuals in question have a Y chromosome or two X chromosomes is entirely irrelevant in determining this.

What is relevant is the actual number of days they have had off due to sickness and it wont be exactly 6.8 if they are male or 8.6 if they are female.

Now if one candidate regardless of gender has had 1.5 days off in the past five years, say, and the other has consistently had 15 to 25 days of per year in the same period, you might say the former gets the edge and the job. Gender doesn't come into it at all.


What the statistics say is it is more likely that the candidate who looses little time due to illness compared with the other will more likely be the male when comparing two candidates of opposite gender.

It doesn't follow that this is the case, it could be the female candidate who displays less absenteeism in this situation but all things being equal it is more probable it will be the male.

Is that really so hard to see?

Apparently so judging by this controversy.

Lucia Maria said...


Totally agree with your conclusion.

I don't work right now, as I'm home with my 10 year old. So I'm one of the non-existant stats. However, when I was working I earned a very high salary, and then when I went contracting, I earned even more. In comparison to the general population, my earnings were very high, irrespective of the fact that I am a woman. By the age of 21 as a computer programmer (with 3 years of experience) I was earning over (in 1990) $30,000 per year - more than my dad who had worked as a highly skilled toolmaker in the manufacturing industry.

Having hired people myself, I know that employers will pay based on the minimum they think they need to, to get the person they want. If it's too low, a person doesn't have to accept that salary, but, they have to believe they can get more somewhere else.

In my opinion, pay rates in NZ are far too low, whether you are a woman or a man. And focusing on the "gender gap" diverts attention from where it's really needed, low wages all around.

Lucia Maria said...

I have to add that I don't think it's the sick days that drive women's lower wages - that's just an excuse. It'll be more around the fact that men are more aggressive with getting higher pay, and the amount of time that women drop out of the workforce would drive our pay rates down.

Post a Comment

Please be respectful. Foul language and personal attacks may get your comment deleted without warning. Contact us if your comment doesn't appear - the spam filter may have grabbed it.