Why do women still earn so much less than men?

 Not only is the gap between men’s and women’s pay in Canada not closing, it’s actually widening.

Can you believe there are still some places in North America where women earn much less than men for the same kind of job?

Sadly, Toronto is among them.there, in the city that’s on everyone’s “It” list as one of the most livable on Earth, women still earn 31 per cent less than men. If you’re from outside Toronto, no smug laughs, please: for Canada as a whole, women earn 33 per cent less. The biggest gap between what men earn and what women earn? Alberta, where women make 42.5 per cent less than men.

And Canada itself doesn’t exactly own the podium in income equality. Of the 34 member countries of the OECD, Canada is worse than 28 of them, right behind Turkey.

If those numbers don’t make you look twice at the success of women’s advancement in the workplace, perhaps this will:

Equal Pay Day is how far into the next year that a woman has to work in order to make the same that a man did the year before.

In 2013, Equal Pay Day was April 9.

Last year, it was April 16.

And this year?

It’s April 20.

In other words, for the past three years running, women have been making progressively less than men.

This, despite being better educated than men, despite storming the hallways of senior management and leaning their way into company boards, women in Ontario are earning less and less compared to men.

There’s a litany of reasons why women earn less than men, but increasingly less?

Litany first:

  • Women take time off work to have babies (all the more reason for more daycare).​

  • They work much more part-time than men. True, but less so now than in the past. While 94 per cent of Ontario’s part-time workers are women (again, because they’re caring for their kids), it seems 77 per cent of prime-age Canadian women who work do so full-time.

  • ​They also tend to work in occupations that pay less than the ones men work in. Licensed practical nurses, 90 per cent of whom are women, make $38,261 a year according to the latest statistics, while cable TV technicians, 97 per cent of whom are men, make $51,030 a year.

This all sounds pretty reasonable, or at least explainable, until you look under the hood. As Ontario’s Equal Pay Coalition points out: “Even when job classes like telephone operators and bank tellers transitioned from being male dominated to female dominated job classes, the pay dropped overall.”

Just last month, the Journal of the American Medical Association, published a study of 290,000 nurses that revealed male nurses make $5,100 more per year than their female colleagues in similar positions.

It’s tempting to blame an entrenched undervaluation of women’s work and women at work. In other words, male chauvinism dressed up as benign neglect. “Gosh,” the men say, “women earn a third less than men?

Still? Here?

More important, why?

CBC business commentator Armine Yalnizyan offered Metro Morning’s Matt Galloway a good reason last week: “[Canadian] men didn’t do as badly as American men in losing ground in the wage game in the last 20 years.”

“We’ve got more men working in finance and mining and construction, which have all seen solid wage increases, and we’ve added so many jobs for women in health and education and retail in the past 20 years. And these tend to be low-paying jobs.”

But then Armine Yalnizyan put the last three year’s decline in pay equality in context:

“At this change of pace we’re going to have to wait till 2125 to close that gap.”

So if you’re a baby girl born this morning in Toronto, you’ll have to live to be 110 before you earn as much as that baby boy in the crib next door.


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