Friday, 24 June 2011

alisdair thompson must go

i don't know if it's possible to embed tv3 clips (can't find any codes) so you'll have to go over to their place to watch the abomination fo an interview with alaisdair thompson. it's almost 28 minutes long, so you may not want to waste so much of your life on such a thing. the last 5 minutes is hugely illuminating, but the full things give more insights (as if his press release and tweets hadn't already) into how truly misguided this man really is.

a brief rundown of the interview: mr thompson starts by dictating the terms of the interview and how it is to be conducted. you see, he has been gracious enough to grant the interview in the first place, so it should be entirely on his terms. it's not like he has any responsibility to explain himself or anything like that. it's not like he made some atrocious public comments, or holds a role that requires him to make media statements which he should then be accountable for. oh no, he has "granted" an interview out of the goodness of his heart. he does state that he doesn't mind being asked "the most difficult questions you like" and assures the interviewer he will answer them. bear that in mind when you see his meltdown in the last 5 minutes.

once he has done that, he proceeds to tell us about his extremely busy life, with extremely important people. about his late nights and early mornings, because mr thompson is a hugely productive man who has no time to be taking sick days for weak womanly purposes. he's the man, the very important and busy man, who was pretty worn out by the time he go to the interview where he made his insightful remarks. not that he's making excuses of course. he just wants to impress on us how very busy and well-connected he is.

oh, and i missed the bit where he fusses about his appearance. because for some reason, people will be more interested in the tie and the hair than in what he's going to say.

mr thompson is prepared to apologise and does apologise. even though he's "not that unhappy" with what he's said. he gives us the apology, directly looking at the camera . hint 1: if you follow your apology with the word "but" and then go on to say a whole lot of other stuff, it shows you aren't actually sorry. so it really isn't an apology. hint 2: if you keep reiterating and reinforcing the thing you said which was offensive, then what exactly is it you're apologising for?

he reminds us that "fortunately" women are different to men and men are different to women. great insight there. women take more leave, as records show - although there aren't actually any stats on it (i've deliberately avoided writing the word out in full, in consideration of the fact that mr thompson so struggles with it). but he's the full expert now on what women do, how women manage (mostly with tablets, didn't you know).

and to show us how super non-sexist he is, he assures us that most women are more productive than most men, because of all the housework and childcare they do as well as work. he has been listening to the criticism he's been receiving all day, you see. he's showing us that he's taken it on board, that he's totally not sexist at all, because women are so different and so wonderful. it still doesn't occur to him to state that it's wrong for women to have to be the ones to take time off when their children are sick. he concedes later on that it's wrong for women to be doing more of the unpaid work in the home but can't think whose fault it might be. hint 3: if you want to convince us about how non-sexist you are, it pays not to use a hugely sexist term like nanny-state.

he thinks we need to take the emotion out of this. all this talk of menstruation and baby-making makes women so very emotional, obviously. it isn't helpful. let's all be non-emotional and just talk about productivity.

the bit that really gets me is the discussion of the personal lives of his two top women lawyers. the interviewer asks if they have children - relevant because he's so busy praising their productivity - and he answers in the negative. but then he goes on to discuss their marital status. how is that even relevant? and are those employees happy to have their personal lives thrown out into the public arena, just so he can make some tragically useless point about productivity? if i was them (& particularly since they are lawyers), i'd be filing some kind of complaint with the privacy commisioner pretty promptly.

as should all the other female employees who get to be used as examples of his "records" that are supposed to prove his point about the reasons for leave. we see the meltdown begin when he's asked for the research to support his assertions. he then decides that he should tell the interviewer what the question should be. she's apparently only there to do as she's told, not to hold him accountable. he knows he can't answer the question about research, because there isn't any. so he expects her to ask a differently worded question.

and when she does ask a pretty reasonable question about women giving heavy periods as the reason for taking sick leave, he has a complete meltdown. it's not even a difficult question, it's certainly not an offensive one, and it's asked in a completely polite and calm manner. his behaviour is shocking, and clearly bullying (but we're supposed to take the emotion out of the situation and be all rational-like). he knows it's being filmed - he specifically gave permission by saying "you can roll the camera now" a few minutes earlier.

his comments of earlier in the day were enough of a reason for him to step down from his position. but this? i really can't see how he can continue.


NZFemme said...
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NZFemme said...

It looks like - at this stage anyway - that he won't be asked to step down.

EMA northern president Graham Mountfort made the following comment:

"If you take the comments in context, we don't believe they were perhaps as outrageous as has been painted. I imagine it would be something that would fire people up."

What was particularly telling in the unedited Campbell live interview was the image of Thompson towering over Mihingarangi Forbes with his fists balled up.

LudditeJourno said...

I almost find this unbelievable. The ongoing story of Mr Thompson feels like watching newsreels from the 1970s.

KG said...
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KG said...

Via Lindsay Mitchell:
Women Take Almost 50 Percent More Short-Term Sick Leave Than Men

According to data from the U.S. Labor Department released last November, both married and unmarried women with children report a higher rate of absences from work than those without children.

Women take more sick days than men

stargazer said...

kg, you aren't going to get very far here telling people to grow up.

as for your stats, all they prove is the partriarchal nature of our society. so surely you will be out vociferously lobbying for men to take their share of resonsibility of looking after sick children? such an injustice can't sit well with you or lindsay mitchell or alisdair thompson, and you & the EMA will be implementing policies forthwith to right this situation - i expect to see the press releases very shortly.

i notice that you don't comment on the breach of employees privacy; the hypocrisy of asking others to "take the emotion out of the situation" then having a meltdown; the promise to answer the difficult questions then refusing to answer straightforward ones; and the bullying behaviour when things don't go the way he wants them to.

KG said...
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McFlock said...

KG, for so many urls you only mentioned two studies, including one self-reporting survey.

Looking at the main study (M Laaksonen et al, Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2008;65:325–330) was enlightening: "Various factors relating to family and private life have been
hypothesised to contribute to the female excess in sickness
absence. This has been a persistent assumption even if the
evidence about the associations of these factors with sickness is
inconsistent. In our study none of the family-related factors
explained gender differences in sickness absence."

And what were those differences? Women in the study had on average 18.3 sick days per year, while men had only 14.1. To put it another way, women in the study spent 98% of the time at work that men did.

Sorry, "women take more sick days" doesn't account for 12% less pay for the same work.

stargazer said...

feel free to post your comment again kg, without the gendered insults. and as for facts & logic, please provide fact or any links to reseasrch showing that men are taking as many days sick leave to care for sick children - i'd be interested to see it. or are you just basing that claim on "feelings".

also, please provide any evidence at all of women here complaining about ment taking parental leave. or women anywhere really.

Daisychain said...

Research backs Thompson's period comments

Carol said...

If you look into the detail of that research, Daisychain, you find that the evidence isn't as clear-cut as you might think.

It says that women in the western world tend to have more absenteeism than males and that there is evidence of a 28 day cyclical pattern in one workplace, for women under 45 years. Furthermore, the conclusions for research of this Italian workplace is not supported by a more recent study.

The original paper estimates that this female absenteeism accounts for about a third of the difference in pay by gender. They look at gendered absenteeism patterns across the western world, then look at an Italian bank workers to find explanations for this pattern.

However, they conclude that the impact on the gender pay gap is probably because the absenteeism of women provides a signal to employers that the women are less productive. But there is no way to conclusively measure if the women who have more sick days are actually less productive than men. There is a indication in the evidence that women may be absent more than men, but that they can still be as productive as the men.

The researchers conclude that men's absenteeism is more due to shirking than the women's. And the researchers say that the cyclical absenteeism of women under 45 in this one workplace, provides a noisy signal: ie it's hard to draw strong conclusions from it.

This more recent (2010) research of female teachers doesn't support the above findings:

It finds fault with the data analysis methods of the earlier 'Italian' study. The abstract for the more recent research says:

We analyze absenteeism of teachers and find no evidence of increased female absenteeism on a 28-day cycle. We also show that the evidence of 28-day cycles in the Italian data is not robust to the correction of coding errors or small changes in specification. We show that five day workweeks can cause misleading group differences in absence hazards at multiples of 7, including 28 days.

Darkwin Punk said...

Even if the statistics show that women take more leave than men, or even if they do take leave for menstrual complaints, how exactly just that justify a lower hourly rate or annual salary? Isn't that what leave is for?

Carol said...

And PSA has obtained some stats recently viA OIA, which shows that there's not much difference between the sick leave taken by men and women. There's slightly more women taking sick leave. However, PSA reckons that, given that women need to take time off for child care, they had expected women would have ben absent more.

But the PSA's survey of women workers also shows that women in the public sector do more work than they are paid to do:

“What the statistics clearly show is that women are not taking days off each month because of periods as Employment and Manufacturers Association (EMA) chief executive Alasdair Thompson claims.

“Research from the recent PSA Women’s Survey shows that women are working long hours and gifting millions of dollars worth of extra work each year that they are not being remunerated for,” says Ms Pilott.

“A conservative estimate of that unremunerated work amounts to nearly two-and-a-half million hours of work annually. In monetary terms that’s around $54.5 million or $90.3 million if based on the public sector average hourly overtime rate.

Anonymous said...

But the PSA's survey of women workers also shows that women in the public sector do more work than they are paid to do:

Do they do more unpaid overtime than men do, though?

Carol said...

As I recall, research by people like Marilyn Waring shows that internationally women do more unpaid work generally than men (eg voluntary work, caring for family members etc)..... as shown here:

In Canada unpaid work is estimated to be worth up to $319 billion in the money economy or 41% of GDP; globally the numbers skyrocket to $11 trillion US. Most unpaid work in Canada and around the world is performed by women.

This UK TUC research shows that women in their 30s do more unpaid work than men..... until the women have children.

Single women in their 30s are bearing the brunt of Britain's long hours culture and are much more likely to put in unpaid overtime than men or working mothers, findings by the TUC show.

"Women who want to get on at work need to put in longer hours than anyone else, but as soon as they have children they no longer have that option. It is hardly surprising that the senior levels of most organisations are male and that the gender pay gap stubbornly persists."

Women's campaigners also raised concerns that pressure to work longer hours militates against mothers and in effect forces women to choose between family and career.

I have seen Waring talk about how mainstream economists don't usually include the productive contribution of unpaid work to the economy (eg bringing up children is part of preparing the workforce of the future).

Anonymous said...

Call me a biological determinist, but I think Al is suffering from an awful case of age-related testosterone poisoning. Sadly, when some men reach a certain age, their male vital fluids get addled and they're unable to reason cogently about gender justice issues...

Craig Y