13th January 2011
Pay Equity: A Struggle
A Brief Study of Pay Equity in Canada
Men and Women should not be called the opposite sexes, instead referred to as complimentary sexes. The sexes should be treated equally in every aspect, one of which is in the pay they receive. The sexes should receive equal wages for equal work. It should be more about ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need’. Statistics show that men are paid more than women for the same work. One may think if women are really paid less, why would anyone hire a man? Put another way, would not a company full of men will soon be put out of job by a company which hired only women. The truth is that the pay gap can be attributed to large scale discrimination against women. Men who earn more most often do so because of their gender. To get higher pay, men are more likely to enter higher-paying fields, perform riskier tasks and take positions with less stability which explains the fact that only 26% of all miners are women. To tackle this problem of unequal pay, various movements have risen in the recent times ensuring pay equity. In Canada, the purpose of the Pay Equity Act is to achieve equality in the workplace so that no person shall be denied employment opportunities. Though massive strides have been undertaken in the past for pay equity, the true scenario of pay equity Dey 2
has not been achieved as there is wage disparity in various jobs undertaken by women including unequal pay in the field of sports, and why women tend to work at low paid jobs.
There is pay inequity almost in any profession undertaken by women. Men earn significantly more than women despite the existence of the Pay Equity Act. During the time when Baby Boomers were joining the workforce, women earned 59 cents to the dollar till the 1980s where the wage gap was narrowed by just 15 cents to just 74 cents to the dollar. Back then, the pay equity legislations never confirmed women equal pay as the men; they just gave the women the hope that women could raise their voice against unjust treatment by their employers. The Pay Equity Act of 1963 supported women who were employed in the public sector and thereby, offering no security to the ones employed in the private sector. In 2002, the median wages of women who worked full-time year-round were 76.2 percent of men’s (Werschkul 13). In other words, women earned about 76 cents for every dollar earned by men. To reduce the wage disparities, pay equity legislation prohibits wage discrimination where employees are responsible for equal work. The goal of the legislation is to achieve the ideal balance between financial comfort, professional fulfillment and personal happiness for each women employee. Certain factors are a hindrance in the achievement of this dream. One reason why women earn less because women in the workforce are less likely to work a full-time schedule and are more likely to leave the labor force for longer periods of time than men. These differing work patterns lead to an even larger earnings gap between men and women - suggesting that working women are penalized for their dual roles as wage earners and those who disproportionately care for home and family. Dey 3
Recent figures convey a better story. Working women today are paid an average of 80 cents for every dollar that men are paid, even when accounting for factors such as occupation, industry, race, marital status and job tenure. There are more than 80 fields in which women earn more than men, but some are too small to be statistically significant. Of which, there are only 40 fields in which women earn less than 5% more than their male counterparts. These positions include counter attendants in cafeterias, food preparation workers, waitresses and service station attendants to name a few. It has been argued that women earn less because they are not as qualified as their male counterparts. However women in...