Pursuit: Be the Expert, what do these numbers mean to you?

This summer, I’ll be writing about an exciting topic: women and work.

Things to look out for this month:

  • What we can learn from mistakes women have made in the fields of finance, engineering, and other non-traditional fields for women
  • The good and the bad career advice for women
  • The best practices of women in senior management

Today I want to look at how women are doing in Canada.

Statistics Canada occasionally conducts a Canada wide study of women: Women in Canada: A Gender-Based Statistical Report.  It’s filled with information and packed with statistics that provide, for the most part, unbiased information about the status of women in Canada. The purpose of my first post, or any forthcoming post for that matter, is to not to come to some sort of absolute conclusion about women in the workplace. Rather, this post’s purpose is to have an initial glance at the evidence and make some inferences as to what the numbers are saying.

Increasingly Educated 

Women relative to men, especially in younger age groups, report higher levels of educational attainment. In 1990, 15% of women and around 15.6% of men (ages 25-34) listed a “University Degree” as their highest level of educational attainment. In 2009, the number of women holding university degrees, relative to men, increased. Around 34% of women and 26% of men (ages 25-34) listed a “University Degree” as their highest level of educational attainment. In 2008,  it was reported, that 62% of all university undergraduates, 54% of all masters’ graduates, and 44% of all PhD graduates were women.

Earnings Disparity in Some Fields

In the current figures women are reported to make less relative to men, even when comparing the two groups based on educational attainment. For example, women with a university certificate or diploma above a bachelors degree make $0.89 for every $1.00 a man, with the same level of educational attainment, makes.

The reasons for these disparities are numerous. For starters, I would like to establish that the markets themselves do not discriminate. There are other factors at play.  Women tend to work shorter “full time” weeks compared to men, there is still a pervasive notion within the workplace that a woman’s income tends to be supplemental not primary (especially if she’s married), women on average fail to negotiate higher wages, and tend to cluster in lower paying jobs.

There are some exceptions worth noting. For starters, when comparing wage disparity based on field of study the disparities, on average, are not as large (except for those in “Personal, protective and transportation services”) when comparing based on educational attainment. Furthermore, women in “Physical and life sciences and technologies” and “Health, parks, recreation and fitness” make more relative to men.

The Purpose of These Figures

The figures examined above are a starting point to dig deeper in to the evidence to truly understand what they mean and what can, if anything, should be done.

Over the course of the summer, I will examine what women can do on an individual level to increase their likelihood of being paid on par with their male counterparts, finding higher status jobs, and the like. 


What about you?

  • What changes do you think women can to make, on an individual level, to help close some of these wage disparities?


Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.

Blog authors are solely responsible for the content of the blogs listed in the directory. Neither the content of these blogs, nor the links to other web sites, are screened, approved, reviewed or endorsed by McGill University. The text and other material on these blogs are the opinion of the specific author and are not statements of advice, opinion, or information of McGill.