The wage gap is shrinking: Women earned 87 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2018


According to a new study from Statistics Canada, women earned 87 cents per hour for every dollar earned by men. (Shutterstock)

A new Statistics Canada study reports that women earned an average of 13.3 per cent less per hour than their male counterparts in 2018, or in other words, they earned $0.87 for every dollar earned by men. 

The study says that women in the core working ages earned an average of $26.92 per hour in 2018 across all professions, while their male counterparts earned on average $31.05. 

But the gender wage gap is shrinking.

The study looked at the wage gap since 1998 using data from the Labour Force Survey. The survey is based on a sample of approximately 56,000 households.

The gender gap study focused on both full-time and part-time employees between the core working ages of 25 to 54. It looked only at the difference in wages between men and women, without studying differences for women of colour, Indigenous women or recent immigrants.

I think in my lifetime this gap will always be there.– Margaret Yap, associate professor in human resource management at Ryerson University

Although a gender wage gap in hourly wages still exists, it decreased by 5.5 percentage points from 18.8 per cent in 1998 to 13.3 per cent in 2018. 

Margaret Yap, an associate professor in Human Resource Management at Ryerson University, said that the gender wage gap still poses a huge problem. She said unless governments and employers take on more action to lessen the gender wage gap, it’s going to take a really long time to close. 

“I think in my lifetime this gap will always be there,” Yap said. “It’s something that is very persistent and I don’t think it’s going away any time soon.”

Occupational distribution a key factor

The survey suggests changes in occupational distribution of men and women between 1998 to 2018 was a key factor in reducing the gender wage gap. Occupations that helped drive this change include law and government services, education services, and occupations within business and finance. 

These higher paying occupations employed a larger share of women in 2018 compared to 1998. Earnings also grew faster for women compared to men in these three groups.

According to the survey, the gender wage gap remains in 2018 because of two factors — the distribution of women and men across industries and women’s overrepresentation in part-time work. 

In both 1998 and 2018, women’s overrepresentation in part-time work explained a large portion of the gap. It accounted for 8.9 cents of the 18.8-cent wage gap in 1998 and 9.2 cents of the 13.3-cent gap in 2018.  

Occupations in natural and applied sciences and administrative occupations employed a larger share of men in 2018 and those jobs tended to have higher hourly rates. Wages also increased faster in jobs in natural and applied sciences, which includes professions in engineering, architecture, math and statistics, and physical and life sciences. 

Yap said this study looks at occupations instead of specific levels of seniority within a field.

“One of the biggest reasons why there is still a gender wage gap is, when women work, they are most likely unable to move to higher level positions,” Yap said. 

She said women may have made inroads into higher paid sectors, but men may hold more senior positions within the same sectors. 

Giving women more opportunities to break through the glass ceiling and advance in their careers will help close the gap, Yap said. 


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