Lady Hale: Summon the ‘moral courage’ to tackle gender pay gap

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Fight for what is right and just, says Supreme Court president

Supreme Court Lady Hale

The president of the Supreme Court has called for “moral courage” in the historic fight for women’s equality with men, particularly with regard to the gender pay gap.

In a speech delivered in a Millicent Fawcett Memorial Lecture last December and published last week, Lady Hale stressed that equal pay between men and women “is something that we still cannot celebrate today”. Overcoming this obstacle, she explained, needs courage “to speak up for and to fight within the law and without violence for what is right and just”.

Accordingly, the gender pay gap — which refers to the percentage difference between the hourly earnings for men and women — is a battle to be fought, “even in an advanced liberal democracy such as ours”. Additionally, she recognised that “there are many other women in the world who are far worse placed than we are and we must reach out to and support them too”.

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Hale subsequently draws parallels between the present day and the 2007 case St Helens Borough Council v Derbyshire and Others that she adjudicated upon. She referred to the courage of the dinner ladies whose employers warned them of “dire consequences” if they persisted in their claims for equal pay. Citing her judgment she continued:

“Women workers have suffered injustice in the labour market for centuries. This is not only because they tend to have more interrupted working lives than men. They have been paid less than men for doing the same work. They have been segregated into “women’s work” which is paid less than men’s simply because it is women’s work. There is still a gender pay gap which is far larger than it should be.”

Hale’s comments come as the legal profession gears up to celebrate 100 years of women in law. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Hale, one of three women currently sat on the Supreme Court’s 12-person bench, said:

“My own view is up to a quarter [on the UK supreme court] is an important breakthrough but that there’s no right number of justices of either gender. An ideal balance would be at least 60/40 either way. And so we still have a little way to go towards that.”

Fundamentally, she said, having a more diverse judiciary is so the public can “look at the judges and say ‘they are our judges’,” rather than “beings from another planet”.

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Can someone tell me what she means by this, because I still haven’t worked it out:

Fundamentally, she said, having a more diverse judiciary is so the public can “look at the judges and say ‘they are our judges’,” rather than “beings from another planet”.



She is encouraging women to mitigate more if they are underpaid for the same work. It’s not that difficult to understand that from reading her comments.


I don’t think you read all of my comment…


My bad, homie.


I am a law student. After spending copious amounts of time struggling through terribly complex explanation styles and jargon used in judgments and academic articles, I can confirm that judges and legal scholars might indeed be beings from another planet.

Jonathan Anthony

She appears to be wearing a being from another planet…


Jordan Peterson, although I don’t agree with him on everything, offers the best response to this argument:

– Scandinavia is the most egalitarian country for gender
– Rather than decrease gender differences, it’s changes have increased them! E.g. a greater proportion of women become nurses.
– If your aim is equality of outcome, the only way you can do that, according to the data, is to limit choice e.g. force more women into STEM and onto MBAs
– Such a situation would be terrible. Freedom and choice > superficial equality

He also points out that the data shows that the ‘gender pay gap’ is not solely attributable to gender. There are other factors/reasons


And only beneficial for high income middle class women, whilst their working class sisters sit idle in derelict Northern towns…


“which refers to the percentage difference between the hourly earnings for men and women”

I may have interpreted this wrong, but to me this implies that men and women are getting different salaries for the same jobs? While that might have been the issue in the case that is not what gender pay gap stats are about nor represent.

Gender pay gap is the average hourly wage between all women and men across a workforce. It is NOT a difference in pay for the same or similar job. The gap is due to the work that is being carried out. The larger the gap the more one sex is being employed in less skilled or lower positions than the other.

And as most studies show women’s attitdutes towards work has largely not changed since the 50’s. Once a woman has has children she is more likely to want to do “lower skilled” work as that is community based and normally easier to fit around the school run. Suggesting that there is likely to always
be a gap. And what’s wrong with that if
it makes you happier and you get to spend the time you want with your loved ones?

Feminist arguments disclaimer: I’m not saying this applies to all women. There’s a set of terms refering to ‘most, generally and more often than not’. you


Alicia the pay gap does involve both lower wages for equal work AND fewer opportunities for women to obtain jobs which have higher pay scales.


I think you need to do some research …

Diane Abbott QC

Maybe we can also summon the moral courage to be honest about the figures.

The gap will exist for so long as women make the age old and socially crucial decision to have children and leave their careers. As for the ” womens work” observation, where are the advocates for construction workers and manual labourers that are predominantly male? How does she propose to resolve the interruption of women careers our short of (gasp) forcing women to make certain lifestyle choices?

Unequal pay for the same work is illegal. Reducing it does not require more moral courage but enforcement of existing law we all know to be moral. It is not institutional but a fringe occurrence.

The ideal proportion of 60 40 is also so arbitrary. One almost gets the feeling shes avoiding the 50/50 because thats even more obviously arbitrary. Yes, ANY prescribed gender ratio is arbitrary because thats not a factor we should consider when choosing our judges. They are not a group of people but an institution to uphold the rule of law. No more, no less. She of all should be most conscious of this.

Love Hale but she should not have waded into this conversation as a Justice.


Guess you don’t know what “arbitrary” means, then? 50:50 could hardly be less arbitrary.

Diane Abbott QC

Whoops you can replace arbitrary with meaningless, which is what your comment ultimately is.


What about the pay gap in general? The average FTSE 100 CEO has earned double the average salary already this year. It really is embarrasing.


Vote Corbyn to slap a windfall tax on City greed

Just Anonymous

Lady Hale’s analysis appears to conflate the problem of unequal pay for equal work (a genuine and real problem which must be stamped out wherever we find it) with the so-called ‘problem’ of the gender pay gap (a non-problem, which I consider has been debunked by rational argument countless times).

In fairness, her Ladyship’s comments were from a 2007 case. It is possible that, at that time, the phrase ‘gender pay gap’ did not mean what it has now come to mean today.

For me, the gender pay gap argument has been provisionally settled by Jordan Peterson’s infamous interview on the subject with Channel 4. I found Professor Peterson’s analysis in that interview to be compelling, well-reasoned and persuasive. By contrast, the complete inability of the interviewer to engage with his arguments on any rational level spoke volumes. Her response also perfectly mirrored the irrational hysteria that is provoked whenever such arguments are repeated online.

I say ‘provisionally settled’ because I am willing to change my mind if persuaded by superior argument or evidence. If anyone has such argument/evidence to offer then I will listen to it.

However, mere assertions that the gender pay gap is inherently bad, without any further explanation, no longer interest me.


So you’re saying you hate women?


Just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t mean they hate you Cathy.


It will only stop being a problem when people are no longer put into boxes because of what’s between their legs or because of what their skin colour is, and put into them because of how well they can apply the law to a set of facts…


or how well they can remove square brackets from an SPA


Ha, quite.


What’s the ‘gender pay gap’ for supreme court judges?


The three female justices earn £224,369 on average, using the figures with effect from 01/04/18.

Using the same figures, the nine male justices all earn the same, that is £221,757.

So the Supreme Court bench has a gender pay gap of £2,612 in favour of women.




Aren’t judges supposed to stay out of politics?


Surprised at Lady Hale here. The gap she describes isn’t due to gender, but to different jobs paying different salaries.


“Hale, one of three women currently sat on the Supreme Court’s 12-person bench”

“…currently…sat…”? I mean did you actually go to school? This is poor even by LC’s standards.


You don’t need that second ellipsis in your second sentence, only the first and third.


Barry B

The “gender pay gap”, in the sense in which it’s usually complained about, doesn’t exist.


She’s doing a Lord Widgery I see

Jones Day Partner

Fan of lady hale but not on this one I’m afraid


The so-called “gender pay gap” was debunked long ago and it brings discredit to our nation that a senior judge is peddling this discredited globalist agitprop.

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