So will the authorities now give up pushing the issue of the pay gap? It seems not:
A spokesman for the Government Equalities Office said: ‘The narrowing of the gender pay gap is very welcome but it still remains too large, which is why the Government is committed to promoting equal pay and taking measures to end discrimination in the workplace.’
So despite the fact that young women are earning more than their male counterparts, the state is still going to intervene on the assumption that women are the victims of discrimination. But not everyone agrees:
The insistence that the Government must act to close a pay gap that, for many women, no longer exists brought a scathing response from some critics.Given that women are increasingly dominating the higher education system, the young female pay advantage is likely to grow. And this has some potentially negative consequences. Women are generally hypergamous: they prefer to form families with men they consider as high up, or higher up, in the social scale as they are. But if women in their 20s do increasingly better than men, then where is the supply of male partners for women going to come from?
Economist Ruth Lea, of the Arbuthnot Banking Group, said: ‘There is no pay gap for women who do not have children, and for women under the age of 40 the gap is now trivial.
‘We always knew that single women were paid just as well as men. The idea that women are discriminated against was always a fantasy. I think the equality lobby will be running out of things to say.’
Perhaps what will happen is that numbers of highly educated, professional women will date "non-seriously" in their 20s, before having to settle for a non-professional man in their 30s.
In any event, family formation is likely to be disrupted.
For men, it's important not to be demoralised by what's happening. When the women around you are high flying careerists, it can be difficult to see the point of making the sacrifices needed to take on a traditional provider role. But a lot of these women will lose their gung ho commitment to careers either when they become mothers or after they've spent years in the work force. And those men who have stayed the course and moved ahead at work will then have put themselves in a strong position.