Good news, bad news for Canadian women's pay equality

There have been improvements in women's income according to RBC, but men are still gaining more due to a key factor

Good news, bad news for Canadian women's pay equality
Steve Randall

It’s International Women’s Day and while many firms will mark it by praising their female employees, the fact remains that gender inequality is still very much an issue.

Writing a Thought Leadership piece on the RBC website, economist Carrie Freestone has highlighted some good, and not so good, figures showing how women’s income is still lagging male peers.

The income challenges faced by women are reflected in a recent report that revealed an increase in women seeking self-employment opportunities

Looking at the post-pandemic workforce, Freestone notes that nearly 200,000 Canadian women have entered jobs with less in-person contact with often significantly higher wages. This was part of the shift away from high-contact, low-wage jobs such as hospitality.

With this better-than-expected transition, $9 billion was added in additional household wage income for women and accounted for 15% of the total boost to their earnings during the pandemic recovery.

However, men who made similar moves boosted their incomes by larger amounts, likely because more men than women moved into senior management roles.

An example highlighted in the article, is in the finance, insurance, and real estate sector, where women accounted for 60% of the jobs created over the course of the pandemic, but realized just 46% of the wage increases that movement in the sector generated.

Senior roles are key

Women’s significant impact on the move into low-contact, higher-paying, and higher-skilled jobs was therefore not adequately reflected in their incomes.

Freestone states that “a wage gap will remain until equal representation in senior management is achieved.”

Although the share of men and women in the labour market are equal, men make up more than two thirds of senior leadership positions. When parenthood is included, young male parents have a 10% share of senior manager roles compared to just 3% of women.