Closing the gap on gender equality and gender justice
Did you know that there are over 19 million women and girls in Canada, representing about 50% of the total population, and of those over 1 million are self-employed women in Canada in 2018, accounting for 37% of all self-employed persons? Yet women only make 76.8 cents average earned for every dollar men make.
Women today are pursuing demanding careers and moving into management and leadership positions, however, only three out of the 100 highest-paid Canadian CEOs were women in 2016. This under-representation of women in top-earning positions continues to contribute to slower progress in efforts to close the gender pay gap.
Gender pay gap is a widely recognized indicator of women’s economic inequality, and it exists across industries and professional levels. A UN Human Rights report from 2015 raised concerns about “the persisting inequalities between women and men” in Canada, including the “high level of the pay gap” and its staggering effect on low-income women, racialized women, and Indigenous women.
Women workers in Canada earned an average of 76.8 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2019.
Statistics Canada notes that the measure above doesn’t account for the fact that full-time working women tend to work fewer hours than men, often because of family responsibilities. Comparing the hourly pay of full-time working women to those of men provides a more precise picture of the pay gap. On this basis, women earned an average of 87 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2015. In the 20 years between 1998 and 2018, the gender pay gap based on hourly pay decreased by $1.04.
Why do women get paid less?
First, traditional “women’s work” pays less than traditional “men’s work.” Jobs that conform to traditional gender roles tend to be undervalued because they parallel domestic work that women were expected to perform for free. Research also suggests that when women make up a large percentage of a specific industry, wages become devalued.
Second, most women workers are employed in lower-wage occupations and lower-paid industries. Women work in a narrower range of occupations than men and have high representation in the 20 lowest-paid occupations.
Another factor in the overall pay gap is that more women than men work part-time. In 2015, three quarters of those working part‑time were women.
Women work part-time for several reasons, including lack of affordable childcare and family leave policies, along with social pressure to carry the bulk of domestic responsibilities.
How do we strive towards change and lessening that gap? With more representation of women in non-traditional industries and roles, pushing for equal pay for equal work, and using opportunities and networks to continue to build bridges and break the barriers between men and women. There is still work to be done, but as long as we continue to more forward and have our voices heard, there will be change.