Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Gender pay gap

In July of last year, I talked about the gender pay gap and the impact it has on retirement. In the United States  in 2014, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 79 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 21 percent? The gap has narrowed since the 1970s due largely to women’s progress in education and workforce participation and to men’s wages rising at a slower rate. But progress has stalled in recent years, and the pay gap does not appear likely to go away on its own. I gathered the facts for this post from here. I also think we should support The Canadian Women’s Foundation for the work they do to help women in Canada.

The problem is not going away and the problem can be typically measured in three different ways  and in Canada it is so those who want to paint a bleak picture use method one, while those who want to paint a progressive picture use method three. No matter which calculation is used, the wage gap clearly exists.

Method One: Compare the annual earnings, by gender, for both full-time and part-time workers. On this basis, women workers in Canada earn an average of 66.7 cents for every dollar earned by men.This measurement results in the largest wage gap because more women work part-time—and part-time workers earn less than full-time workers.

Method Two: Compare the annual earnings of full-time workers. On this basis, women workers in Canada earn an average of 72 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Method Three: Compare the hourly wages by gender, including those for part-time workers. On this basis, women earn an average of 87 cents for every dollar earned by men.    
Depending on how you calculate the gender wage gap, you can calculate women’s lifetime earnings compared to men’s. Based on a gender wage gap of 31.5% in Ontario, a woman would have to work 14 additional years to earn the same pay a man earns by age 65. 

Another method of calculating the gap is used in the European Union. In the EU, the gender pay gap is the difference in average gross hourly wage between men and women across the economy. The average gender pay gap in the EU is 16.3%, so Canada is ahead using this method.

The percentage of working women in Canada has increased from about 42% to almost 60% over the last 30 years. This increase has not been handled well by employers or by government policy leaving women at an incredible disadvantage. 

The gap exists and there are many reasons why it exists, some are:

Women’s skills and competences are often undervalued, especially in occupations where they are in the majority. This results in lower rates of pay for women. For example, physical tasks, which tend to be carried out by men, are often valued more favourably than those carried out by women. For instance, a female cashier in a supermarket earns less

than a man working in the stockroom. 

When women are the majority in a small number of occupations, they receive lower wages. The opposite is true for men, as the more they dominate an occupation the higher
their pay. For example, where women are clustered into female dominated occupations, such as cleaning, they tend to earn less than men who have comparable skills in male
dominated occupations, such as refuse collection. 

Women’s skills are often undervalued because they are seen to reflect ‘female’ characteristics, rather than acquired skills and competences. For example, a female nurse earns less than a male medical technician, even though they have comparable levels of qualifications. This can result in a gender bias in the setting of wages and in assessing the
value of the work that women do.

Many Canadians believe the myth that traditional “women’s work” should and does pays less than traditional “men’s work.” As one researcher notes: “Female-dominated job classes are often seen as not being skilled because the tasks are related to domestic jobs that women were expected to carry out for free in the home."  So because women did this   work employers have been given the freedom to  pay lower wages to women in these positions and governments have not felt any political pressure to make sure equal pay for equal work is the norm in the workplace.

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. About two-thirds of the female work force are concentrated in teaching, nursing, and health care, office and administrative work, and sales and service industries.Women aged 25 to 54 accounted for 22% of the Canada’s minimum-wage workers in 2009, more than double the proportion of men in the same age group.

Another reason for the wage gap is that more women than men work part-time. About 70% of part-time workers in 2013 were women, a proportion that has remained steady for three decades.Women working part-time or temporary jobs are much less likely to receive promotions and training than those in full-time jobs.

Women work part-time for several reasons, including lack of affordable child care and family leave policies, along with social pressure to carry the bulk of domestic responsibilities. These factors make it more likely for women to have interruptions in employment, which has a negative effect on income.

A large portion of the wage gap remains unexplained and is partly due to discrimination. An estimated 10-15% of the wage gap is attributed to gender-based wage discrimination. Wage discrimination and employment discrimination refer to different things. The Pay Equity Act  of Canada requires employers to ensure men and women receive “equal pay for work of equal value.” The Employment Equity Act requires that employers remove barriers to the workplace for women, aboriginal people, members of visible minorities, and people with disabilities.

The wage gap matters because women’s lower earning power means they are at a high risk of falling into poverty if they have children and then become separated, divorced, or widowed. They are less able to save for their retirement and more likely to be poor in their senior years; in fact, women 65 or over are more likely than their male counterparts to live on a low income.  The risk of falling into poverty means that some women are sometimes forced to stay in abusive relationships, despite the danger.

When women work outside the home and also do most of the domestic work, their long-term health suffers. According to Statistics Canada, women at every age are more likely than men to describe their days as “quite a bit” or “extremely” stressful.

Greater equality between men and women would bring benefits to the economy and to society in general. Closing the gender pay gap can help to reduce levels of poverty and

increase women’s earnings during their lifetimes. This not only avoids the risk of women falling into poverty during their working lives, but also reduces the danger of poverty in


Women have rising expectations for their working lives and, if companies want to attract the best talent, equality at work is a must. It is essential to creating quality jobs and a highly-motivated workforce. Quality jobs, in turn, are crucial to building a positive working environment where all workers are valued for their work.

Employers can benefit from using women’s talents and skills more effectively, for example by valuing women’s skills and through introducing policies on work-life balance, training
and career development. Women have skills and talents that are often under-utilised in the workplace and unlocking
these can help companies tackle skills shortages. Valuing women for the work that they do and rewarding their skills and potential fairly can improve a business’ performance
and effectiveness, for example, by attracting and retaining the best and most talented staff and creating a positive image with customers.

Companies that build equality plans and strategies into their workplaces create the best workplaces for everyone, male or female, to work in. Having a positive working environment
helps a business to attract customers, improve performance and boost competitiveness. 

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