Making sense of cents

 Many of you already know gendered inequality is something that occurs all over the world, especially in the workplace. A major form of inequality concerns the difference in wages between men and women. Others have already addressed this question on this site, but here I will  explain the bewildering statistics on the wage gap between men and women by trying to “make sense of cents.”

In 1997, females with a university degree earned 71.6% of what men earned ($57,930). This figure is for someone working full time year round. By 2008 this percentage had increased to 84%, so for every $1.00 a male made, a female earned 84 cents. In that same year, however, women’s “average earning” were only 71 cents of the male’s dollar, and their “median earnings” were 74 cents of the male’s dollar. How do we explain these differences?

First of all, as the following table shows, the types of employment for men and women vary according to age, type of work, marital status, and the region you live in.

 What women earned compared to men in  1997

Full year full time

Other workers

All workers

Overall

72.5%

78.6%

63.8%

Marital status

Single

91.8%

90%

82.7%

Married

67.5%

60%

56.7%

Other

80.3%

80%

74.6%

Region

Atlantic

70.9%

66.8%

62.6%

Quebec

74.7%

75.2%

65.8%

Ontario

73.1%

82.7%

64.5%

Prairies

67.6%

82.2%

59.2%

BC

72.9%

76.5%

64.3%

Source: Survey of Consumer Finances, 1997. Statistics Canada, 2004.

So, in 1997, if a female were married, she would only make 67.5% of what her husband would make. Clearly marital status matters and this is closely related to age. Many if not most of the singles were young, at the beginning of their careers. If the type of work was full time or part time also has an major impact on earnings of both men and women. More women then men hold part time jobs. In 2009 28% of women worked part time, where as only 11.9% of men worked part time. Furthermore, most men working part-time were young, but many women work part-time or seasonally their whole careers. This disproportion is why the ratio for all earnings is lower than it was for either full-time year round, or for others, its two constituent parts.  Nor was living in a booming economy necessarily a solution  In 2008, the wage gap was highest in Alberta, where men earned on average $61,700 versus $34,000 for women, a gap of $27,000 a year. Clearly the high paying jobs in the boom industries of Alberta were male dominated, while women were often left with part time jobs.

Average total income of women and men, by province, 2008

Province

Women

Men

dollars

Canada

30,100

47,000

Newfoundland and Labrador

24,000

41,900

Prince Edward Island

27,900

36,000

Nova Scotia

25,200

41,000

New Brunswick

24,600

37,900

Quebec

28,500

39,600

Ontario

31,600

48,600

Manitoba

27,900

45,400

Saskatchewan

29,800

47,900

Alberta

34,000

61,700

British Columbia

29,100

47,600

Source: Statistics Canada, CANSIM table 202-0407.

Thus the reasoning behind why women earn less then men depends on a whole factor of reasons, all leading back to inequality.

– Candice Squires

For more information view this Statistics Canada publication.

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