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The Gender Wage Gap in Canada

Free «The Gender Wage Gap in Canada» Essay Sample

The difference between the earnings of female and male workers is the percentage that women earn as compared with the money that men get. In other words, it is the average difference between hourly earnings of women and men. A nice explanation of this difference is not about the discrimination, but about the difference in choices, which the two genders make.

The statistical researches show that women in Canada still earn less money than men do. Actually, it is the top problem of all members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. This gap between the women and men’s earnings is called the gender wage gap. Various earning researches use numerous different ways to compare the amount, which women and men in Canada earn. All of them prove that today, males earn more than females do.

Discrimination is any distinction, exclusion or preference on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin and leads to destruction or impairing the equality of opportunity or treatment in labor and employment. One of the most common forms of discrimination is gender inequality in employment and wages. The statement that the gender wage gap’s basis is the gender discrimination has a weak and a strong point. The difference in the wage is the result of career choices. Women and men choose different fields and different professions. However, even when women and men do the same work in the same sphere, the wage gap is present. This is the confirmation of the “feminist” statement that men earn more than women.

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Recently, the wage gap between women and men in Canada has started to decrease; however, it happens rather slowly. In 2012, the average hourly wage of women in the country was less than 22 dollars, accounting for 86% of the average hourly wage of men. It is more than 82% that was reported 15 years ago; nevertheless, with such speed, it is going to take approximately 40-50 years for women to get as much as men do. The wage difference between females and males seems even more striking when their annual income is considered. The average annual income of women, who are more likely to work part-time and take fewer hours than men, is only 68% of annual income that men get. However, in case of the women, who are working full-time, the annual income reaches 76% percent of the income of men. In Canada, this difference is the smallest in the coastal provinces and Quebec. In Ontario, women receive approximately 87% of hourly wage of the male workers, which is better than the national average figure, but not much better as compared with 82% reported 15 years ago. On the other hand, the worst situation is in the British Columbia. Here, the wage gap between women and men is decreasing with the slowest speed among all the other provinces. It has reported only three percent since 1997 and, over the last decade, has not changed at all. In addition to that, the growth rate of wages is the lowest among all the provinces.


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The gender wage gap is less for those women who are members of the labor unions, as well as for those who engage in the collective agreements. In 2012, the women, who were members of the labor unions, received an average of more than 26 dollars per hour, representing 95% of the hourly wage of the male members of the labor unions. On the other hand, the women, who were not members of the labor unions, received an average of about 20 dollars per hour, which is only 81% of the hourly wage of men who were not in the labor unions. In addition, it is 25 percent less than the wages of the female members of the labor unions. The difference in pay between women and men, non-union members, decreases much slower. For young workers, who are the labor union members, the difference in wage between women and men has virtually disappeared.

Even though, the gender wage difference still remains, by making this issue a priority in the labor unions’ activity, some positive results have been achieved. Besides, today, women are likely to work part-time and take fewer hours than men do. Many women are working on temporary contracts in non-standard employment, which affects their earnings. The labor unions play an important role in reducing the wage difference between females and males, but they still have much work. The more progress the women, who are members of the labor unions, reach, the better situation for all other working women is.

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This tendency gives hope to all women in Canada; however, the question of why the wage gap still is present remains in abeyance. In addition, the difference raises the question about the topicality of this issue. Some suggest that this wage gap does not demonstrate the discrimination of the female employees and is the result of the women’s attempts to keep the balance between career and family issues. The others, however, argue that the gender wage gap underlines the inequality between females and males. They divide all jobs into the “women’s jobs” and “men’s jobs” and explain that historically women’s work and skills have been undervalued for many years. Consequently, the current women’s work remains underpaid in Canada.

Most economists share the opinion that numerous human capital factors, demographic peculiarities, and job characteristics affect the wage the person earns. All of these factors need a thorough examination in order to define their contribution to the changes and trends in the gender wage gap.

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Among the human capital factors, education, experience, and tenure are the most important issues. These factors affect the income. Despite the fact that women take an active part in social life and are extremely close to men in terms of educational qualification, the gender wage gap has not changed much since the 1990s. Until quite recently, the human capital factors have managed to explain this problem. However, currently they are not taken into account anymore. The higher education level is associated with the higher salary, but it is also important to pay attention to the field of studying. The Statistics Canada website (2013) provides information about the preferences of the education field depending on gender starting from the 1990s. According to this data, women choose to study education and health while men are likely to study different technology and engineering. In this case, the men win because of the speed of the field’s development. Moreover, the choice of the “traditional” field causes the gap increase.

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The next significant characteristics are the demographic issues such as the presence of child/children and marital status of a person. They make their specific impact on the wage gap issue. Unlike men, women do the unpaid work in the household. The Statistic Canada website demonstrates how the Canadians tend to spend their day. The recent information of this research shows that females and males spend almost the same time at work. Nevertheless, in addition to that, women spend extra two hours per day to do the unpaid work at home. It is easy to explain this phenomenon with the women’s choice that allows them to keep the balance with their responsibilities in care giving. It is the personal decision of a female to either work part-time or full-time. The gender wage gap highlights the fact that women and men spend their time in different ways. Women tend to keep the balance between work and home by choosing the part-time job option. During the whole 2009, the amount of women, who were working part-time, was twice bigger than the amount of part-time working men (CANSIM, 2013.). Moreover, women and men have a different explanation for their preference of the part-time instead of full-time work. Comparing the reason of caring the children, keeping the household, and being responsible for any other personal and family issues, the 19% of females and 2% of males name it. The recent studies of the wage for people with children demonstrate that, with each additional child, women earn less money. In men’s case, the situation is completely opposite. The men with child/children earn more than the men without them do. In case of women and men, who have never been married, the gender wage gap is rather small or even does not exist at all.

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Morley Gunderson, the Canadian economist, is the author of an article about the difference between the female and male wages. He wrote about the role of women in the household and their significant contribution to the gender wage gap (Gunderson, 2006). He asserts that such factors as the reduced hours in the labor market, interruptions in the labor market careers, less labor-market oriented education, reduced mobility because of the household ties are important for the existence of the gander wage gap.

The important job characteristics are part-time or full-time status, labor union membership, industry, firm, and occupation. The difference of the female and male workplaces can also partly explain the reason of the existence of the gender wage gap. In addition, the factors of industry, types of work or size of establishment play an important role.

Usually, all job opportunities are divided into the “female” and “male” ones. Men prefer to work in the fields of trade, transportation, construction, and wholesale. Besides, they show higher representation rates at these workplaces than women do. Women, on the other hand, are more successful in the spheres of education, health industry, and retail services. In addition to that, they prefer working in the small firms with the general number of employees of around 20 people. Besides, women have the other special feature in their work preferences. It is about their tendency to combine two occupational categories; for example, finance and administration, sales and services. Near 56% of all women, work in two fields (Nearly One in Three Women Work in Sales and Service Occupation).

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The other Canadian economist, Kilolo Malambwe notes that, in addition to their “high level of education,” women usually get the post-secondary education, unlike their male counterparts. This “increases their compensation” (L’écart Salarial Homme-Femme est en Baisse, 2012).

Any direct discrimination is illegal in Canada. However, the gender wage gap still exists and does not decrease as expected. Women try to deal with this problem, especially the female members of the labor unions. They have already done a huge step forward to the elimination of the gender wage gap. Moreover, in such way, they give hope to the other women, who are not members of the labor unions. Even though, various factors explain the regularity of the gender wage gap issues; the questions of discrimination and unfairness still remain relevant. The problem of the wage difference is a pressing issue not only in Canada. It is relevant for many other countries worldwide and has deeper roots than it may seem to be at first. The finding of the solution is important, and it is one of the perspective deals.

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