As people weigh in on Equal Pay Day this week, a welding instructor at Durham College says it’s important to continue the conversation about gender equity and pay.
“In terms of wage gap, I definitely always got paid less,” said Arian O’Neill-MacLellan.
Breaking through the equal pay barrier has been a challenge for O’Neill-MacLellan. Working in a predominantly male profession, the welding instructor says that she ran into issues when she first started an apprenticeship and as she was certified for her Red Seal. O’Neill-MacLellan says she was overlooked for a jump in pay while her male colleagues received consideration.
“I was not granted a wage increase. I was still lower than them, even though I was (reaching) the highest achievement of my trade,” said O’Neill-MacLellan.
The 33-year-old now works as a welding instructor in the college’s Skilled Trades, Apprenticeship and Renewable Technology Department and is its first full-time female faculty member. She says the pay gap in the field can make the trade less attractive to women.
“It deters women even further. We have a big struggle trying to get women into the trades,” said O’Neill-MacLellan.
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But students like 23-year-old Angelique Dimock, who is in her first year of welding at the college, disagrees with the notion that it’s the pay gap deterring women from entering skilled trade professions.
“I personally believe that it is because of the gender roles that are persistent in the field,” said Dimock.
Numbers from Statistics Canada show there is a tangible gap in wages between men and women. In 2017, StatCan found that on average, Canadian women made 87 cents for every dollar earned by Canadian men.
Although this can be a challenge for women in the welding trade, O’Neill-MacLellan says women need to know when to speak up.
“You have to be your own advocate so you have to be able to speak up and fight for yourself because no one else is going to do it for you,” she said.