Statistics Canada’s Census 2021 update reminds us that the Gender Wage Gap is complex
TORONTO, Sept. 18, 2023 – Using average hourly wages, Statistics Canada data from the Labour Force Survey unveils that in 2022, female employees in Ontario earned $0.87 (or 13%) for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. The average hourly wage gap has narrowed by 6 percentage points since 1998 when women earned $0.81 for every dollar earned by men. Hourly wages are useful for showing the gap based on number of hours worked. The gap shown by average annual earnings shows the gap for jobs that can include performance-based pay, so typically shows a wider gap.
“Census figures about the gender wage gap are just one indicator of wider gender inequalities in the labour market,” says Kadie Ward, Commissioner and CAO of the Pay Equity Office. Commissioner Ward highlights the need for continued efforts to understand and address systemic factors that contribute to these disparities.
Marginalization compounds the gap
The data on average annual income reveals varying gaps across different racial backgrounds. For instance, Arab women face the largest gap at 47%, while Chinese women experience the smallest at 25%. On average, the gender wage gap narrowed by 3% for racialized populations between 2016 and 2021.
During the same period, Indigenous populations in Ontario experienced an increase in average annual employment income, with the gender wage gap narrowing by an average of 4% across all Indigenous populations, and totalling 39%.
Similarly, people living with disabilities in Canada face a substantial wage gap, with women living with disabilities earning $25,900 CAD less per year than men living without disabilities. This translates to an average annual gender wage gap of 43%.
What we do and don’t know about the Gender Wage Gap
30 per cent of the gap can be explained by measurable factors such as education, job tenure, part-time vs. full-time work, public vs. private sector work, firm size, unionization rates, occupation, industry, and demographics. 70 per cent of the gap remains unexplained by current research methods.
From 1998 to 2018, the rise in women’s educational achievements has emerged as a pivotal factor in reducing the gap. Statistics Canada research indicates that the increase in women’s educational attainment contributed to a 12.7% reduction in the median annual gender wage gap over this timeframe. This trend underscores the importance of education as an agent of change, contributing significantly to women’s empowerment.
Another historical factor influencing the gender wage gap has been occupational segregation. As women have made strides in breaking through occupational barriers by moving into male-dominated fields, their increased representation in higher-earning occupations has directly contributed to narrowing the gender wage gap.
The occupations with the largest gains in closing the gender wage gap over the last decade in Ontario were natural resources, agriculture and related production occupations (by 10%); management occupations (by 9%); and occupations in manufacturing and utilities (by 6%).
Learn more about the unmeasured 70% of the gap
While the progress is evident, challenges persist. Collaborative efforts between public and private sectors, as well as individual awareness and action, are integral to making substantial positive changes and achieving parity in earnings. Building on the success of season one of the Pay Equity Office’s award-winning podcast, the second season of Level the Paying Field was launched earlier this year. The second season convenes leading experts and renowned researchers to uncover the hidden biases that contribute to unexplained pay gaps. Through the series, Ontario’s Pay Equity Office seeks to highlight how data and research can seed meaningful conversations around gender inequality and drive change.
Join the Pay Equity Office in elevating the equity conversation to make the world a more equitable place for women to work, live and thrive and support closing the gender wage gap. Visit our web site at www.payequity.gov.on.ca, watch episodes of Level the Paying Field at www.levelthepayingfield.ca or listen wherever you get your podcasts.
- The gender wage gap (GWG) is the difference between wages earned by men and wages earned by women. There are different ways to measure the GWG.
- In Ontario, the GWG calculated on the basis of average hourly wages is 13%. This means that for every $1.00 earned by a male worker, a female worker earns 87 cents. Calculated using average annual salary earnings, the GWG is 25%, or 75 cents on the dollar. The gap is even wider for Indigenous women who earn 61 cents on the dollar, and women of colour who earn 62 cents.
- In Ontario, the hourly wage gap has narrowed six percentage points since 1998 to 13 per cent in 2022 when looking at average hourly wages. This means, on an hourly basis, women make 87 cents on average for every dollar made by a man.
- Research shows that factors such as education, job tenure, part-time vs. full-time work, public vs. private sector work, firm size, unionization rates, occupation, industry, and demographics, can only explain about 30 per cent of the gap in Ontario. Seventy per cent of the gap remains unexplained. This unexplained portion may be due in part to factors such as gender discrimination and societal expectations and constraints.
Visit https://www.payequity.gov.on.ca for more information.
For further information: To schedule an interview with Commissioner Ward: Please contact Alanna Sleep, Executive Assistant to the Director and Commissioner, 416-270-8266 | email@example.com