The difference between how much women and men are paid in Canada isn't just a large amount — it’s actually a life-changing one.
According to Catalyst Canada, a nonprofit organization that focuses on expanding opportunities for women and business, Canadian women earn $0.82 to every $1 earned by men. That’s marginally better than the U.S.’s $0.78 for every $1, but sets the gap in Canada at 18 per cent — much higher than in other countries, specifically in Europe.
“The global pay gap was about $4,000 on average between men and women, and the Canadian pay gap was just over $8,000,” Alex Johnston, executive director of Catalyst Canada, told the Globe and Mail.
Economics professor Kevin Milligan tweeted the following last October to demonstrate the problem visually:
Here is Canadian median earnings, broken down by sex. No talking points here--cold hard data. pic.twitter.com/PW8FqSjfsM— Kevin Milligan (@kevinmilligan) October 7, 2014
As the province of Ontario notes, the pay gap is even larger for women who are minorities, Aboriginal, newcomers, or women living with disabilities.
Although many reports have attributed the gap between men’s and women’s salaries to mothers taking time off for childcare in their career-building years, Catalyst notes that even just one year out of university, there’s still a 6.6 per cent gap between what women and men earn.
According to Ontario’s Pay Equity Commission, approximately 10 to 15 per cent of the wage gap is due to discrimination. Most provincial governments have pay equity plans in place to prevent this from occurring, but the practice persists.
One employer, McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., is taking steps to fix the gap one employee at a time, with a recent announcement of $3,515 being added to female professors' paychecks that "couldn't be explained away by discipline or rank," according to Inside Higher Ed.
Catalyst, along with the WEB Alliance (a British Columbia-based business networking association for women), released a B.C.-focused report on Wednesday entitled, “Women as a Catalyst for Growth: A BC Action Plan,” has some key recommendations on how parity can be achieved, with plans that could undoubtedly apply to businesses across the country.
Specifically, the report recommends creative flexible work practices to help support families, as well as creating a space for mentors and role models to impart their wisdom — a practice that many successful people say has helped them immeasurably.
Two other aspects include encouraging diversity from the youngest age possible to make sure girls know business and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields are options for them as well, as well as making sure men are part of the conversation as well.
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