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Inequalities in the Labour Market

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Gender Inequalities in the Labour Market

Ziyu, Lin A00378385

Saint Mary’s University


This paper examines the inequality between men and women workers in labour market in Canada. The two main issues that will be discussed are Pay Inequality and Opportunity Inequality between genders in the workplace. For the first issue, there are four measures provided to compare the earnings by gender – Gender Income Gap, Annual gender wages rate, Weekly average wage rate, and Hourly wage rate by using statistical data from Statistical Canada and the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics. In the following context, it will explore the factors that lead to pay differences, including the gender-specific factors, discrimination, and wage structure. For the second issue, Opportunity Inequality will be shown in three aspects containing the representation inequality, job-related responsibilities, and discouraged banned professions. Furthermore, there will be some recommendations provided at the end of the paper for improving gender equalities in the workplace.

         Key words: Gender, Pay Inequality, Wages difference, Discrimination…


Gender inequality exists in workplaces all around the world, and for a long time including Canada. It comes in many different forms, which are pay differential between gender for doing the same job; less likely to promote female workers due to pregnancy; employ and train only male workers or only female worker for a same type of job because it is considered to be a “man-type job” or “woman-type job”.

Generally in the past not only did men make more money hourly in their jobs, men were much more likely to receive permanent full-time positions then women as well. It was expected that women would have only part-time or temporary jobs, in part because of their role in society as they were expected to stay at home to take care of young children, after not being employed while being pregnant most times. This had an effect on their jobs skills as they would not get the time to hone their skills, and often they would have gaps in employment. It was not only family related concerns that kept women out of higher paying careers; it was the erroneous prevailing wisdom that women could simply not handle a “man’s” job. Luckily for society we are seeing a change to this type of attitude. If we review the measures included in this paper we can see a trend towards increasing amounts of women in more permanent positions, and closing the gap in the hourly and annual areas. However if we look at Figure 1 for instance, we know that Canada has a long way to go to be considered among the leaders for gender equality in the labour. This paper will attempt to address some of these issues and analyze the measures contained within.

Pay Inequality

Over the past few decades, there are a lot of papers estimating the wage gap between females and males. Most studies show that men paid more than women, even including some reasons like, personal characteristics of workers or different characteristics of occupations, but the explanation behind it remains in some dispute. However, in a positive respect, the difference of wage has narrowed dramatically and the number of female workers who entered traditionally male occupations is increasing.

There are various measures are presented below to compare the earnings by gender in Canada, and all of them show that females earn less than males.

Gender Income Gap

According to the Conference Board research, gender income gap is identified by “the difference between male and female median full-time earnings as a percentage of male median full-time earnings.”

The Conference Board research (2013) also indicates that even against discrimination legislation and equal rights provisions were passed in most countries during the last decades, a significant gender income gap still exists in all of the countries.

Lots of Canadians think that the income gap between male and female in Canada has been dealt with. Is it true? Let’s look at Figure-1 below. The bar chart shows “the gender income gap ranges from the lowest level in Norway around 8% to the highest level of 29 % in Japan.” The gender income gap in Canada is about 19%, which ties with the U.S. in 2010. However, looking at the table, Canada actually still on the grade “C” level compared with other courtiers. 


[pic 1][pic 2]

Source: The Conference board of Canada, 2010

Annual gender wages rate

Annual gender wages rate is a common indicator to measure and compare the total annual earnings of men and women. As Figuer-2 indicated below, the average earning of full-year, full-time earnings of female workers is always lower than that of male workers, and there is $17,900 difference in total in 2008. Annual earnings include the wages of male and female, including full-time full-year workers, which doesn’t distinguish between Temporary and Permanent employment. Women are much more likely to work part-time is one of the reasons why female workers earn less than male workers on an annual basis. (Cool, 2010) 

Figure-2: Average Earnings of Full-year, Full-time Earners (2008 constant dollars)[pic 3]

Source: Statistics Canada, “Distribution of earnings, by sex, 2008 constant dollars, annual,” Table 202 0101, CANSIM (database), Using E STAT (distributor), 10 September 2010.

Average weekly earnings

Average weekly earnings are outstanding measure to determine the gender pay gap. When gender income gap measures are used, the researcher is forced to restrict attention to full-time and full year workers, which avoid some of the of problems associated with part-time or weekly workers. Average weekly earnings avoid this problem.

Figure-3 illustrates the average weekly earnings by gender in Canada. From the table we can see average weekly earnings more than two times for female workers than for male workers from 1997 to 2012. In this period, for men, average weekly earnings grew from $905 to $988, increased by 9.2%; while for women, average weekly earnings grew from $626 to $744, increased by 18.8%. The gender average weekly earnings gap decreased from $279 in 1997 to $244 in 2012. Even though the difference is now smaller than ever before, obviously, men still earn more money weekly than women do.



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