In 1987, when the Pay Equity Act was passed, Canadian women were making between 64¢-74¢ on average to every $1 made by men. While the wage gap has narrowed dramatically since then, that process has slowed in recent years. From a global standpoint, the World Economic Forum ranked Canada only 16th overall in pay equity in 2017. Even now in 2019, women are only making 84¢ to every $1 made by men.
Even though the pay gap is still an issue in Canada, research shows there are greater numbers of women entering previously male-dominated fields, that companies are course-correcting when audits or leaks indicate there’s a pay disparity, and that in some fields, pay between employees of all genders is already at par.
The reasons behind the wage gap are more complex than employers simply failing to provide equal pay for equal work. Studies show the wage gap can be affected by several issues, including:
Women are under-represented in leadership roles: while unprecedented numbers of women have taken on mentorship and advocacy roles, created professional organizations and empowerment initiatives to guide women looking to advance, there’s always room for more.
To work toward closing the gender pay gap, Canada introduced the The Pay Equity Act in 1987. The act mandates fair and equitable pay for women, and “puts the onus on employers to establish and maintain compensation practices that provide for pay equity by comparing female job classes and male job classes and adjusting the job rates of female job classes so that they are at least equal to the job rates of comparable male job classes based on skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions.”
The Pay Equity Office continues to monitor the gap, and they report that it is slowly narrowing. In the meantime, here are some ways you can empower yourself:
The existence of the gendered wage gap is not just a simple case of women getting paid less for the same work. The domestic duties women are expected to perform outside of work affect their earning ability, the fields in which women work in large numbers are undervalued, and unconscious hiring/training biases are keeping women out of higher paid, higher prestige roles. A lower earning level also means that women—on top of earning less overall—are more likely to be dependent on welfare programs, housing subsidies, food-banks, and other government-funded support programs.
If we can close the gender pay gap completely, it could add an extra $420 billion to the Canadian economy, free up subsidy funding, and make life better for everyone.
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