The gender pay gap is alive and well in Canada and many other advanced economies, according to a new global study by job search giant Glassdoor.
The report finds that women in Canada earn just 84 cents for every $1 earned by men, a gap similar to the one reported in official statistics. In 2017, Statistics Canada said Canadian women were making 87 cents for every $1 earned by men.
But the Glassdoor study went one step further, finding a four per cent pay differential between men and women even when factors like education, years on the job, occupation and professional title are taken into account. In other words, Canadian women are making just 96 cents for every $1 earned by men with the same qualifications, job and experience, something Glassdoor is calling the “adjusted pay gap.”
That four per cent difference remains “unexplained,” according to Glassdoor, meaning that it’s due to a variable the company cannot account for based on information in its dataset. It could be attributed to “factors such as workplace bias (whether intentional or not), negotiation gaps between men and women and/or other unobserved worker characteristics,” the company said in a statement.
When looking at the unadjusted pay gap, Canada is in the middle of the pack, according to the study, which also covered the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands and Singapore. France has the smallest unadjusted gap, with women making 88 cents for every $1 earned by men. Germany has the widest gap, with female workers taking home just 78 cents for every euro earned by their male counterparts. In the U.S., women earn 79 cents for every $1 earned by men.
In terms of the adjusted pay gap, Canada comes in second after Australia (97 cents per dollar) and ties with France. The Netherlands has the largest adjusted gap, with women earning just 93 cents per dollar. In the U.S., women are making 95 cents for every $1 earned by comparably qualified men.
In all countries, the gender pay gap shrank but did not disappear even after statistical controls were applied.
The global study is based on more than half a million salary reports shared anonymously by employees over the past three years. The Canadian estimates drew on around 21,000 data points.
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What’s behind the gender pay gap?
Around half of the gender pay gap in Canada seems to be caused by the fact that women tend to work in lower-paying industries and jobs, according to the study.
The finding echoes a 2016 study by Oxfam Canada and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which found that female-dominated industries tended to have lower average pay compared to male-dominated sectors. For example, the median annual wage for truck drivers, who are overwhelmingly men, was $45,417. By contrast, the median annual salary for early childhood educators, who are overwhelmingly women, was $25,334, the report noted.
The fact that women tend to sort themselves into lower-paying occupations is an even bigger part of the problem in the U.S., where it explains almost 57 per cent of the gap. In other countries, such as the U.K., though, just 37 per cent of the gap is due to women choosing careers with smaller paycheques, while 23 per cent of it is explained by differences in education and professional experience.
In Canada, only 11 per cent of the gap can be attributed to differences in education and experience, Glassdoor said.
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Pay differences can vary widely based on industry and job title
While pay disparities between female- and male-dominated industries explain a lot, the size of the pay gap also varies significantly from sector to sector. For example, in the U.S., for which Glassdoor produced the most granular analysis, women working in media, retail and the construction industry are likely to be most underpaid compared to their equally qualified male colleagues.
Job roles also matter. For example, pilot tops the list as the job having the widest adjusted pay gap in the U.S., even if the aerospace and defence industry overall boasts one of the smallest adjusted pay gaps.
In general, C-suite executives also displayed one of the widest gaps, with women’s paycheques 24 per cent smaller than men’s.
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Even a small gap can make a big difference
While the adjusted pay gap is considerably smaller in all countries studied, it can still make a significant difference over time.
For example, in the U.S., where the adjusted gap is 4.9 per cent and the average annual salary reported on Glassdoor is $55,450, women stand to lose more than $81,000 over a 30-year working life — more than a full year of salary.
Statistics Canada calculated that its 87 cents-per-dollar pay gap estimate would work out to the equivalent of women working without pay for 47 days in 2018.
While gender pay differences are shrinking over time, it might still take decades to eliminate them completely, Glassdoor said. In the U.S., if progress continues at the current pace, the gap would not be fully bridged until 2070.