Today we have a guest post from Tanner King, a fellow Canadian on the wage gap. Remember, we accept submissions for any blog-related topics. If you have something to say, feel free to send it in.
Once in a while a new statistic regarding the “gender wage gap” will find its way into the mainstream media. Generally we nod along and agree that disparity between earnings for men and women is unfair and should be rectified.
Then we change the channel. Rarely do we consider the implications of these statistics.
Usually they’re just two simple numbers placed side by side. A Toronto Sun article posted in April of 2012 states, in reference to women employees, “Overall they earn 77 cents for each dollar made annually by men…”
This article claims that a female working the same position with the same hours as a male will still make less. You will often notice vague language being used when these statistics are presented. What do they mean by “the same hours”. Is this the same hours per year; is it the same hours p er week? Perhaps for ten years a man and a woman in an executive position work the exact same hours and make the exact same amount of money, but then the woman takes time off for maternity leave, while the man continues to work and make more money, and maybe even achieve a pay raise.
A 2010 study by the Canadian Library of Parliament states “…the gap between women and men underlines the fact that they do not use their time in the same way and that the task of looking after dependent family members is largely borne by women.”
Generally when statistics like this are presented they don’t even go so far as to specify the type of jobs that were looked at or the amount of hours or the education of the people surveyed. It will just be a vague comparison ignoring most contributing factors. This is a tool that can be used to make the gap seem as vast and insurmountable as possible.
Additionally, despite what a lot of these studies would like you to think, this is not some worldwide conspiracy of oppression keeping females down. For example Ireland has the highest gender wage gap in the world…. in favour of women. Irish women without children earn 17 percent more than the typical male worker in the same position according to research by the OECD.
This is not one minor happening wherein the wage gap is reversed in favour of women either. A 2010 USA Today article reports that “Women ages 22 to 30 with no husband and no kids earn a median $27,000 a year, 8% more than comparable men in the top 366 metropolitan areas, according to 2008 U.S. Census Bureau data…” The same article goes on to say “It isn’t true for all women in their 20s working full time — overall, they earn 90% of what all men in their 20s make — just for those who don’t marry or have kids.
Canadian economist Morley Gunderson comments, “Factors emanating from women’s role in the household (e.g., reduced hours in the labour market, reduced mobility because of household ties, education that is less labour–‐market oriented, interruptions in labour market careers, willingness to pay for workplace amenities that are family friendly) are important determinants of the pay gap.”
There is a wealth of information on the web regarding common majors for males and females. I would recommend looking up the statistics specific to your area, or simply talking to people. It’s staggeringly clear that, more often than not, men choose majors more suited to the job market. That means more likely to get a job right out of university, and it means higher wages overall. Women are typically drawn to liberal arts, design, public relations, and things of this nature. It’s no secret that there is not a lot of women in engineering, statistically one of the best choices in major.
Even through a small amount of critical thinking and research we are able to uncover a number of factors contributing to the wage gap in countries all over the world. The important thing is to take statistics for what they’re worth. Check the sources and understand that just because concrete numbers are presented does not mean there is not a bias.
It should also be noted that in Canada, as with the U.S., gender pay equality is a law. If any woman believes that her employer is paying her less because of her gender she has the ability to take legal action.
Feminist research groups will often try to claim any statistics that conflict with the idea that the wage gap is motivated solely by discrimination are lies perpetrated by an overbearing patriarchy. All that can be said to that is to do your own research, talk to people you know, and create some comparisons of your own.