Economic Development News & Insight


Is 2186 the year for equal pay?

Angela Thibert / January 12, 2017

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Is 2186 the year for equal pay?

Today, findings show that women are outperforming men in postsecondary in North America, and are more likely to graduate from college and university. According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, 62 percent of university undergraduate students in Canada are female. Even though women may be more qualified to do a job they are not receiving equal pay for work of equal value. In fact, this gap is only getting wider.

According to the World Economic Forum`s Global Gender Gap Index report for 2016, Canada ranks #35 out of 144 countries. This number has decreased 16 places from 2014. If trends keep going this way women won’t earn as much as men for another 170 years, and that’s being optimistic. On an average work day, women would have to work an extra 4 hours and 47 minutes to catch up with men. In comparison, the U.S ranks #45.

At this rate, Canada won’t be able to achieve gender equality until 2186.

Among the top ranked, the Nordic countries have set the standard for gender wage equality. Iceland, Finland, Norway, and Sweden are the top 4 countries with scores above 80 points. The points represent the percentage of how far the wage gap has been closed. What are they doing to achieve this?

Altogether, the Nordic countries have more opportunities for both men and women. The top ranking countries have higher enrollment levels in schools and equal access to education. Studies show women making up the majority of the high-skilled labor market, so there are plenty of opportunities for women to be promoted into leadership roles.

Another important factor is that the countries have more of a work-life balance. In countries such as Canada and the U.S, there may not be as generous policies that allow women to care for their children, and work at the same time. There are more lenient policies regarding maternity leaves and childcare. Canada and U.S can definitely learn from these government policies.

Some of the lowest ranking countries still have stricter, traditional views of women that do not allow women to take on the same roles as men. There are greater pressures on women to stay home and take on domestic roles. Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen are at the bottom of the index.

No country has fully closed the wage gap. Gender wage equality continues to be important not just from a fairness perspective, but an economic one as well. When men and women both participate in the labor force and are paid an equal wage for equal work it leads to economic growth and empowerment. There is more money being put in the pockets of women and families, and once spent it is going back into the economy.

The reality is employers and governments need to “step up their game,” and adapt to the changing workforce. A culture of equality needs to be fostered, and give women the resources to break the glass ceiling.




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