Equal Pay

Lilly Ledbetter has become a prominent pay equity activist in the United States after suing her former employer Goodyear for paying her significantly less than male colleagues throughout her almost 20-year career. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

The gender wage gap persists in Canada but gets smaller with higher education, the OECD says in a new report.

The research group of wealthy nations published an exhaustive report on education Thursday, looking at the correlation between spending on education and economic outcomes. In its chapter on Canada, the group looked at earnings comparisons between the genders, at different age and education levels.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development's data, women in their prime working years between 25 and 64 who have not completed high school earn 61 per cent of what similarly-educated Canadian men do. That compares with an average of 76 per cent across all 35 wealthy nations that the group tracks.

But that gap narrows somewhat with more education. "A tertiary educated woman earns on average 72 per cent of what a similarly educated man earns, which is in line with the OECD average of 73 per cent." Tertiary education is what the OECD calls any education after the high school level, which is known as secondary education.

Other recent reports from the World Economic Forum, Oxfam, Statistics Canada and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives have found similar evidence that women are chronically underpaid — discrepancies that can't be explained away by hours worked, education levels or other lifestyle choices.

Other findings

In other data, Canada had the largest share of adults with post-secondary education but a lower-than-average share of masters and doctoral degrees in 2015.

Last year, 55 per cent of Canadian adults had post-secondary education, the highest share among OECD countries compared to an average of 35 per cent.

Canada also spends more per post-secondary student than almost all of the OECD countries, at US$21,500. That places Canada sixth overall, after Luxembourg, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

With files from The Canadian Press