“A woman doing the same job as a man should be paid the same,” she
said. “But we are often told that the man has to support a family.”
Several men in the audience nodded emphatically:
that was what they always said.
“But what about
the woman who has to support a family?”
brought murmurs of agreement from the women.
week in Acton I met a girl who is trying to feed and clothe her five
children on two pounds a week, while her husband, who has run off and
left her, is earning four pounds ten shillings making ships’
propellers in Tottenham, and spending his money in the pub!”
“That’s right!” said a woman behind Ethel.
“Recently I spoke to a woman in Bermondsey whose husband
was killed at Ypres–she has to support his four children, yet she is
paid a woman’s wage.”
“Shame!” said several women.
“If it’s worth the employer’s while to pay a man
a shilling apiece to make gudgeon pins, it’s worth his while to pay a
woman at the same rate.”
(Ken Follett, Fall of Giants)
The parsing is very hard. On one hand, ‘employer’s while’ and ‘his while’ seem noun phrases but they make no sense to me. On the other hand, I suspect ’employer’s’ and ‘his’ have some meaning but I’m not sure. How do I understand the sentence, semantically and syntactically?
You may be interested in this word:
worthwhile : being worth the time or effort spent
while : n. the time and effort used (as in the performance of an action) < worth your while >
The sentence is saying:
If the employer sees benefit in paying a man, it should see the same benefit in paying a woman the same money for the same work.