The gender wage gap is a big issue in Canada. It's the difference between what men and women earn for doing the same job. Even though it's 2023, women in Canada still earn less than men in most occupations and industries.
According to recent data, women in Canada earn an average of 89 cents for every dollar earned by men. That means if a man and a woman are doing the same job, the man is likely to earn more money for doing the same work.
The gender pay gap is even more pronounced for racialized women, women with disabilities, and indigenous women. That may not surprise you - but what may astonish you is when this all starts:
Did you know:
Girls aged 12 to 18 experience a gender pay gap in summer jobs, earning almost $3.00 less per hour compared to their male counterparts, according to a report by the Girl Guides of Canada in 2018. For folks who have daughters, granddaughters or nieces, think of what this means.
With regards to Post-secondary education, female students who have loans to pay off, have lesser means to do so in comparison to their male counterparts, as reported by the Canadian Women's Foundation in 2019.
And this one - which is so very dear to my heart being an aging researcher, this difference in pay contributes to a gendered pension gap of 22%, where women retire with approximately 80% of the pension that men retire with, according to a report by Mercer CFA Institute in 2021. This is problematic as women live longer than men but earn less. How will they fund their longer lives?
It's important to note that the gender wage gap isn't just about individual choices or career paths. Studies indicate that even when men and women have the same level of education and experience, women still earn less than men. This is due to a variety of factors, including discrimination, bias, and systemic barriers that prevent women from advancing in their careers.
The good news - the Canadian government has implemented policies to address the gender wage gap, such as the Pay Equity Act, which requires employers to provide equal pay for work of equal value. There are also efforts to increase representation of women in leadership roles and to provide support for women in male-dominated industries. Admittedly, however, these changes are painfully slow.
But there are some other things we can do to level the playing field.
Teach your children how to negotiate and help them get comfortable talking about money
I realize this is a tall order as most adults I know would rather talk about the intimate details of their lives than speak about money! But here's the thing I want you to think about - why is your daughter getting less pay than your son by a whopping $6.31 when working for family, friends or neighbours? You read that correctly.
Another good question we should be asking - do some jobs pay more than others? The data reveal a clear answer. YES! And girls are more likely to work in "caring jobs" which include caring for children, babysitting, eldercare, and housekeeping, which pay less than jobs in which boys are represented such as maintenance, gardening or groundskeeping, according to a report by the Girl Guides of Canada and Ipsos (2018). Is it just me, or are you perplexed as to why the woman taking care of my children is paid less than my gardener?
As a parent, you know your daughter's interests and abilities best, so help her think through different employment possibilities and encourage her to step outside of her comfort zone and explore new opportunities. For instance, if she's interested in landscaping or being a soccer referee instead of babysitting or being a camp counselor, encourage her to pursue these avenues.
And if she does choose being a counselor (which I would do, camp was the best time of my life!) talk to her about what her time is worth and the value of her work. This latter point is so important because all too often I see female graduate students refrain from negotiating a job offer because they are just soo grateful that they received a job in the first place!!! What they fail to recognize is that this has repercussions not only for their future financial well-being but it also takes a toll on one's self-esteem and self-worth. Thus, starting this conversation early is important and can serve to empower women to ask for what they are entitled to later on in life.
Learn the Art of Negotiation
Contrary to popular belief, negotiation skills can be learned and improved through practice, training, and feedback. While some may have a natural aptitude for negotiation, research indicates that effective negotiation is a skill that can be developed and refined over time.
And this is particularly important for women. By learning and honing your negotiation skills, you can overcome gender-based barriers. But you cannot do it by negotiating like a man. Listen to what Yasamin had to say about this insight.
You need to learn how to negotiate as a woman (I agree this is a sad state of affairs but help me change this!) because you will be penalized if you negotiate like a man. And guess what - it' not just men that will penalize you, but women too. The rules are different for women and you need to understand the playing field so you can learn how be effective in this arena. read my previous article on why language is important when it comes to women and negotiation. And get my Annual Accomplishment Audit (don't know what it is - read the previous article).
And reach out if you have questions or comments.
I believe we can change things. I believe we can make the world a better and more just place for girls and women. And men must be part of the solution. This is not a female issue.
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