This past year has been one of women making their voices heard. The #MeToo movement has brought attention to sexual harassment and assault, but it has also put a spotlight on the wage gap.
The wage gap is very real for women across Canada and it has been for a long time. The latest numbers from Statistics Canada clearly show that full-time working women earn 26 per cent less than full-time working men.
This is even worse for women of colour and Indigenous women. Racialized women earn 62 cents for every man’s dollar and Indigenous women earn 46 cents.
This gap can be difficult for some people to get their heads around. Many claim it is a myth, stating that the women they work with make the same as them for the same job or that they don’t know any women who have had to deal with issues of pay inequity.
There are a lot of misconceptions about the pay gap that persist despite the force of the #MeToo movement and the statistics that are found year after year on the gap. Here are just a few of them.
Women Choose Lower Paying Jobs
Fields where women outnumber men such as retail, early childhood educators or cashiers, tend to be much lower paying jobs. It has been called ‘Occupational Segregation’, referring to the ‘striking tendency of many industries to be very heavily dominated by one gender or the other.’ It also shows how little value ‘women’s work’ has in society with occupations related to caregiving or teaching paying much less.
Women Choose to Have Babies and Take Time Off
It is true that women take time off to have children and often have the responsibility of caring for children at home, but research has shown that the pay gap exists right from the beginning of women’s careers. The lack of affordable child care in Canada also has a huge impact on the pay gap, causing mothers to stay out of the workforce longer.
There Has Been Huge Progress
Employers can pay women less, choose not to hire them or not promote them because it is the norm. A study found that women earned more than half of the university degrees and 40 per cent of the MBAs handed out in North America, but only three per cent of Fortune 500 companies are run by female CEOs. Despite many more women attending post secondary and entering fields that are usually dominated by men, there are still very few women in leadership roles. And all of this is changing at a snail’s pace, with Oxfam estimating that it will be 135 years until women and men are paid equally.