Saskatoon

Saskatchewan's gender wage gap third-highest in the country

The wage gap between men and women may be shrinking, but at an excruciatingly slow pace. According to a new study from Statistics Canada, women earned 87 cents per hour for every dollar earned by men. 

Statistics Canada study shows gender wage gap slowly shrinking

Women earned 87 cents per hour for every dollar earned by men in 2018. (Shutterstock/Stefan Malloch)

The wage gap between men and women may be shrinking but at an excruciatingly slow pace.

According to a new study from Statistics Canada, women earned 87 cents per hour for every dollar earned by men. 

Nationally, the study says women in the core working ages earned an average of $26.92 per hour in 2018 across all professions, while their male counterparts earned on average $31.05 across all professions. 

That puts the wage gap at 13.3 per cent in 2018, down from 18.8 per cent in 1998.

In Saskatchewan, women earned about 15 per cent less per hour ($27.04) last year than men ($31.92). 

That works out to a wage gap of $4.88 per hour — the third highest gap after Alberta and British Columbia. 

Deciphering the wage gap issue is complex, said Megan Walsh, an assistant professor in the Department of Human Resources and Organizational Behavior at the Edwards School of Business.

Walsh said at the root of the problem is an implicit bias against women which makes it harder for them to advance in organizations.

"I don't think there is this explicit idea that we want to pay women less or anything like that, but I think there are implicit biases that are often hard for individuals to control in decision making," Walsh said.

"So it's a lot of little decisions being made that ultimately create this bigger problem."

She said we have stereotypes about women as being communal, team-oriented and caring.

Those may all be positive traits, but it isn't what we typically hold high when we think of stereotypical leaders.

Walsh said Saskatchewan has a couple of regional issues that also plays a part in the wage gap.

One is that men dominate in the resource sector where there are a lot of high-paying jobs. 

"Men typically tend to be dramatically over represented in those types of occupations," she said. 

The other is the issue of race and cultural identity.

"When you look at the wage gap for Indigenous women, in particular, it almost doubles in comparison to white men."

According to the study, the two main factors for the continuing gender wage gap is the distribution of women and men across industries and women's overrepresentation in part-time work. 

In both 1998 and 2018, women's overrepresentation in part-time work explained a large portion of the gap. 

It accounted for 8.9 cents of the 18.8-cent wage gap in 1998 and 9.2 cents of the 13.3-cent gap in 2018.  

Occupations in natural and applied sciences and administrative occupations employed a larger share of men in 2018 and those jobs tended to have higher hourly rates. 

Wages also increased faster in jobs in natural and applied sciences, which includes professions in engineering, architecture, math and statistics, and physical and life sciences. 

While the gap is slowly closing, don't expect wage equality any time soon, Walsh said.

According to a new study from Statistics Canada, women earned 13.3 per cent less per hour than their male counterparts in 2018. (Shutterstock)

But there are ways to close the gap. One is more transparency of what people are paid.

"If we actually look at the numbers and what we're paying men versus women, and we're transparent about that, we're more likely to actually follow suit with that," said Walsh, adding there should be more training so people are more aware of biases when they're making hiring decisions.

The study looked at the wage gap since 1998 using data from the Labour Force Survey. The survey is based on a sample of approximately 56,000 households.

The gender gap study focused on both full-time and part-time employees between the core working ages of 25 to 54. 

It looked only at the difference in wages between men and women, without studying differences for women of colour, Indigenous women or recent immigrants.

with files from Saskatoon Morning and CBC Business