Today is Canada's Equal Pay Day: this represents the extra months in the year women must work to have their wages catch up to those men earned in the previous year. There are lots of ways to calculate the wage gap but, according to Statistics Canada, in 2019 women made 71% of what men make annually. Importantly, the gender pay gap is more significant for those who face multiple barriers, including racialized women, immigrant women, Indigenous women, women with disabilities, and trans and non-binary people. Despite being a leader in Pay Equity legislation, Canada has the eighth-worst gender pay gap among OECD countries.
Most people think that the wage gap is all about unequal pay for equal work. But it is not. While that exists—and we often see big headlines about dramatic cases—the wage gap is mainly driven by other factors. And, busting that myth will take us a long way to achieving real progress. The gender pay gap is actually a gender promotion and leadership gap. It’s a caregiving gap. It’s an access to good jobs gap. In our research brief, we summarize the latest insights into this persistent gap and why efforts to address pay equity and pay transparency have failed to yield results.
At GATE, we focus on the structural barriers that are underpinning the wage gap, including the motherhood penalty and job segregation. A whole host of factors conspire to segregate women into occupational fields (such as childcare and retail) or the internal, administrative, non-revenue-producing roles that pay less. I recommend you watch GATE Faculty Research Fellow Dionne Pohler talk about her research on the sources of the gender wage gap and potential policy solutions.
Closing the gender wage gap is vital to economic recovery as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. We are making great strides with federal and provincial governments investing in affordable childcare, but we still have a long way to go. At GATE, we are committed to using research to tackle the root causes of the gender wage gap. You can keep up with us on Twitter and LinkedIn for resources and the latest gender-based insights.
Sarah Kaplan, Director
Institute for Gender and the Economy (GATE)
P.S We’ve got an excellent lineup for you of virtual events about addressing biases, including the one happening today with Author Jessica Nordell on her book 'The End of Bias: A Beginning'