Examining the Gender Wage Gap

One of the major challenges women face in the workplace is unequal pay. The gender wage gap in the Canadian workplace is an issue that every working woman faces.

Today we want to share details about the gender wage gap and tips on how we can all work to correct the gap and make wages fair and equal for women.

What Does the ‘Gender Wage Gap’ Mean?

The wage gap means that for every dollar a full-time Canadian male worker makes their female equivalent will make 72 cents. This wage gap exists even though there are more working age women in Canada and these women are more likely to be higher educated than the working age men. Even still, women are paid less on average across all work industries and there is an even greater wage gap for aboriginal women, women of different races, and immigrant women.

This wage gap is nothing new but as CBC reported, the wage gap has steadily widened since 2009 when women made 74.4 cents for every dollar made by a man.

So why and how can this wage gap exist and what can we do to fix it?

Why Does the Wage Gap Exist?

The Canadian Women’s Foundation outlines 4 main reasons the wage gap exists:

‘Women’s work’ pays less than ‘men’s work’

Female-dominated occupations tend to be seen as needing less skills and therefore requiring less pay because they are often associated with domestic work similar to the work women do in the home for free.

Note: women spend twice as much time each day doing unpaid work in the home as men do. This can eat into potential paid work opportunities for women and lead to health-related issues as many more women than men report their day as being ‘quite a bit’ or ‘extremely’ stressful.

Most women are employed in lower-wage occupations and lower paid industries

Women have high representation in the 20 lowest-paid industries in Canada. Careers that are dominated by women are far more likely to pay less than careers dominated by men.

CBC provides the following example:

Truck Drivers (a male-dominated industry) make an average of $45,417 per year while Early Childhood Educators (a female-dominated industry) make an average of $25,252 per year.

This point goes hand in hand with reason #1 in that many female-dominated industries (including nursing, office work, and teaching) are seen as domestic work and can therefore be paid less.

More women than men work part-time

70% of part-time workers as of 2013 were women. Women are much more likely to take part-time jobs and in a part-time job are less likely to receive promotions or raises than those in full-time jobs.

One reason women may be more likely to take on part-time jobs than men is if they have become separated/divorced from their husbands and forced to provide solely for their family on their lower income. These women are also put in positions where they cannot afford to lose their job so speaking up about their lack of pay or promotion may put their job in jeopardy, so instead they say nothing.

This also means that women who are stuck in low paying jobs may not be able to afford to leave their spouse which can create dangerous environments (in instances of abuse) for both the women and children.


10-15% of the wage gap is gender-based wage discrimination. This plays into the idea of there being such a thing as ‘women’s work’ and that any work done by women should be paid less than work done by men. Based on studies there is no indication that women work less hours or have different education or experience than their male counterparts. This information lends itself to the idea that the difference in wage is based deeply in gender discrimination.

How Can We Fix the Gap?

The Canadian Women’s Foundation also provides 6 ways we can help to fix the growing wage gap:

  1. Help women enter high wage occupations
  2. Help and encourage girls to enter into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers
  3. Address discrimination head on
  4. Advocate for improved workplace policies
  5. Recognize and fight traditional gender stereotypes
  6. Work with the Canadian Women’s Foundation – they are advocating for women’s equality by bringing together communities and investing in programs that help women start their own businesses, learn trades, and work in job placements.

For more information about the Canadian Women’s Foundation you can visit their website here.

By identify that there is a problem with gender wage in Canada we are taking the first steps to correcting the gap.

If we are aware of the reasons the wage gap exists then we can work with companies like the CWF to work toward closing the gap and providing equal pay to Canadian women and women around the world.

This blog post was originally published on March 8th, 2016