You probably have already heard group a women say ‘equal pay for equal work’ or even ‘stop work discrimination against women’. You also might have heard politicians saying: “for every dollar a man makes, a women makes 77 cents”.
They all refer to the gender pay gap, the fact that working women are paid less than working men. (equal pay for equal work is a bit different)
However, you also might have heard people saying that the wage gap between both genders was a myth since it is illegal to pay someone less based on their gender; maybe you even heard that men work more hours than women, so it is normal that men win more than women.
In Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Act of 1977 states that all Canadians have the right to equality, equal opportunity, fair treatment, and an environment free of discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, marital status and family status.
Nevertheless, a bit more than 40 years later, some people still fight for this equality, especially in the workforce. So many people seem to have different ideas on the subject that it is almost impossible Is there really a wage gap ? If so, is this gap about purely about discrimination against women? We will find out, but first let’s find out how the wage gap is even calculated.
How Do We Even Calculate the Gender Pay Gap ?
The gender wage gap is often used as an indicator of inequality between men and women. As the Canadian Women’s Foundation  states it very well, “[the] gender wage gap is typically measured in three different ways:
- Compare the annual earnings, by gender, for both full-time and part-time workers. On this basis, women workers in Canada earned an average of 69 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2016.3 This measurement results in the largest wage gap because more women work part-time, and part-time worke[r]s typically earn less than full-time workers.
- Compare the annual earnings of full-time workers. On this basis, women workers in Canada earned an average of 75 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2016. 4
- Compare the hourly wages by gender, including those for part-time workers. On this basis, women earned an average of 87 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2015.5
No matter which calculation is used, the wage gap clearly exists for women in Canada. “
How Can This Happen ?
The gender wage gap, the difference of remuneration between working men and women, are clearly visible in the statistics. There are so many variables that affect the situation that it is difficult to identify all the causes of the differences between in earnings between men and women.
However, we can see that in every way that the wage gap is calculated it does not take in account the actual job that is done by these individuals. It is known that men tend to be over represented in the STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) field, jobs that tend to be paid relatively more than the average salary. On the other hand, women tend to be over represented in the social work field, jobs that are generally paid less than those in the STEM field.
Also, men tend to work more hours than their female counterparts as the U.S. Bureau Labor of Statistics concluded in 2018 . Men worked on average 8.27 hours in an average weekday compared to 7.66 hours for women. Notice that more women work in part-time jobs.
In 2012, the AAUW, a feminist organization published a study that was meant to identify what are the causes of the pay gap between men and women in the US. . It found that the supposed wage gap of 77 percent (in the U.S. at the time) shrinks to 93.4 percent after taking in account hours, occupation, college major, employment sector and other factors associated with pay.
The unexplained could be because of discrimination; however, it is impossible to measure how much it influences the pay gap.