Close the pay gap

How to help close the pay gap between men and women

Canada used to be a world leader regarding the number of women in the workforce. Twelve years-ago, even socially progressive countries like Germany looked to Canada as a model for this, but our progress in this area has since stalled.

Recent numbers from Statistics Canada also show that the pay gap between men and women still exists, with women working full time in Canada earning 74.2 cents for every dollar that full-time male workers made. This gender gap in annual earnings has barely improved in the last 20 years (even as education levels among women have surpassed those of men).

In a previous blog post, we shared the economic impact the pay gap between genders is having on our economy including a shortage of 1 million skilled working people by the end of the decade. How can we change this so that in another 20 years the numbers will tell a more positive story?

Here are ways you can help and things women especially need to be aware of:

  • Women should negotiate more

The ability to successfully negotiate can have a direct impact on a person’s income, however, this skill is often not taught and left up to individuals to learn on their own. This can be a problem when stigmas or institutional sexism exists. Research has also shown that women are less assertive than men at negotiating during the hiring process and often less willing to negotiate. Others show that employers may penalize women if they initiate a negotiation. Learning proper negotiation techniques and asking ask for what you feel you are worth in the workplace is key.

  • Apply for jobs even if you are partially qualified

As quoted in Lean In, the book by Sheryl Sandberg, men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications and women apply only if they meet 100% of them. Women are removing themselves from workplace promotions and opportunities. Understand that the hiring process is often where you need a creative approach to framing your expertise. Or ask for a mentor to help you by putting in a good word.

  • We need subsidized childcare already

The lack of affordable and accessible childcare in Canada is creating a crisis for the one million households in Canada that have two working parents and a child under the age of six, and for the more than 100,000 single working parents with young children. It is also creating a significant drag on economic growth because the lack of childcare spaces keeps some mothers out of the workforce longer than they want (or need to return). The high cost of childcare means that a working parent spends as much as a third of their income on childcare, so for some people it’s barely worth returning to work.

  • Encourage young women to consider careers that are considered non-traditional

Women are under represented in skilled trades or in engineering. Information in schools that challenges the perceptions of skilled trades directly is needed to encourage all young people to consider a career in the trades or other industries where women are under-represented. Stereotypes that create barriers to women being exposed to technical opportunities early in life should be removed. Delivery of awareness programs by women in the trades can break stereotypes and assumptions.

Last but not least – share this article with someone you care about! Awareness of how the gender pay gap affects us all and how to beat it is also important.

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