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Social Issues
Will It Take 228 Years To Close Canada’s Gender Gap?
April 25, 2013
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At the rate Canada has been going for the past 20 years, a new report says it will take 228 years to close the gender gap in this country.

The study was done by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), an independent research group that focuses on "issues of social and economic justice".

It looked at data from the World Economic Forum to calculate Canada's standing on gender equality, both overall and in the areas of health, education, economics and politics.

Every year, the Economic Forum issues 'The Global Gender Gap Report' and assigns countries a score.

Here's a video from the Forum explaining what the report is, and why it's important:

A score of one would mean a country has achieved perfect parity between men and women.

In 2012, Canada's score was .738.

The CCPA calculates that our score (on the same measures) in 1993 would have been .715 (the World Economic Forum only started calculating the gender gap in 2006).

That's only a 2.3 per cent increase over 20 years. If we continue at that slow a rate, the study says we won't achieve gender parity until 2240.

Here's a chart to illustrate how slight the movement has been, according to the CCPA's findings:

canada-gender-gap-chart.jpg
(Chart: CCPA)

The good news is that Canada scores pretty well on equal access to health and education (.99 and .98, respectively). But in politics and economics, not so much.

In 2012, the top country for equality of economic opportunity between men and women was Mongolia. Canada came in 12th.

Our gender gap has "inched forward at less than .3 per cent a year," according to the report, from .728 in 1993 to .788 last year.

One major aspect of the disparity is the wage gap: although both men and women are earning more on average, women's share of earned income hasn't changed much.

Another problem is not enough women are working as legislators, senior officials, and managers in Canada. Men outnumber women two to one in those jobs.

And at the moment, only one of Canada's top 100 CEOs is a woman.

According to the report, "the closer women get to the top, the greater the barriers to achieving equality." And it says that's most evident in the political arena.

Canada's gender equality score in politics was .155 in 1993, and it had only risen to .196 in 2012.

Based on that rate, it will take 392 years for Canada to achieve equal representation of women in parliament, in cabinet and as heads of state.

Here's a chart comparing our scores on health and education with those for politics and economics:

canada-gender-gap-chart-2.jpg

The report also cites 'Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead', the controversial bestseller by Sheryl Sandberg.

The idea being that there's a leadership gap between men and women for a few reasons:

1. Because women spend more time doing unpaid work (about twice as much as men)
2. Women tend to make less money
3. The effects of abuse and harassment.

There's been lots of debate online about Sandberg's book, and whether it really represents the situation of women today.

The New York Times created a "Room for Debate" microsite where various thinkers give their take on the book, while some writers, like Mary Kate Cary, dismiss the book as contradictory and "written by committee."

Sandberg spoke to Q about the book, her career, and the debate. Check that out at CBC Books.

The CCPA argues that government can help close the gap by funding civil society organizations that study gender inequality and advocate for change:

"Our greatest gap could be closed," the report says, "with an investment of political and financial resources into both the civil society organizations and the political institutions that represent the needs and interests of women in Canada."

For a different point of view, here's a piece from 2010 that Margaret Wente wrote in the Globe and Mail.

Wente referred to a study called 'Reality Check: Women in Canada', which found that women earn 70.5 cents for every dollar men make.

She argues that because men work more hours than women do, a more accurate figure would be 84 cents. She also suggests "when you adjust for work experience and women's preference for jobs in the public sector and social services, the gap shrinks to 93 cents."

She also questions the methodology used to determine Canada's Gender Gap score, saying it is "based on a series of calculations I defy anyone to explain".

Wente goes on to write, "Whether the women of Canada really ought to envy the women of 10th-place Lesotho (with an infant mortality rate 15 times higher than ours) or sixth-place South Africa (where the rape rate is among the highest in the world) is something you'll have to ask the experts."

She also writes, "In Canada, a small army of people (mostly women) have built lucrative careers arguing that women in the developed world are nearly as oppressed as they are in, say, Yemen."

For more on the gender gap, CBC News reported on a 2011 study that found the number women who advance to the executive ranks had "slowed to a crawl" over the previous two years.

And Trish Hennessy, who's with the CCPA, put together this "index" of numbers on Canada's pay gap between men and women.

Via The Globe And Mail

Related:

Equal Pay For Equal Work? A Look At The Wage Gap Between Men And Women In The U.S. And Canada

Canada Ranks 20th In Gender Equality

Johann Olav Koss On Gender Inequality & The Role Of Sports

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