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Social Issues
Equal Pay For Equal Work? A Look At The Wage Gap Between Men And Women In The U.S. And Canada
February 15, 2013
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If you're wondering whether the pay gap between men and women still exists, this chart from the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics and NPR should make it clear: it does.

And it's not just in the U.S. According to Statistics Canada, women continue to earn 70 per cent of what men earn on average annually in this country.

So what does this chart tell us about how the pay gap varies by job? And are there any industries where women make more than men, on average?

Well, women who are health technicians and counselors tend to make just a little bit more than men, according to the Bureau.

If you're a woman who sells insurance, though, you can expect to earn only 62.5 per cent of your male counterparts' annual wage. And among physicians and surgeons, women make only 67.6 per cent as much as men.

According to NPR's analysis, some of the pay gap can be explained "by choices." Among physicians, they say, "women are more likely than men to choose lower-paid specialties."

But they also point out that this does not fully explain the pay gap.

This study found that, even controlling for "differences in specialty, institutional characteristics, academic productivity, academic rank, work hours, and other factors," male physicians get paid more than female physicians.

Another interesting aspect of the data is that the jobs where the gap is biggest tend to pay more. The average weekly pay for the jobs with the biggest gap between men's and women's wages is $1,087, while in jobs where the gap is smallest, the average weekly pay is $773.

This chart got us thinking about the wage gap in Canada. We decided to look into the situation in this country.


It turns out the wage gap is more severe in Canada than in the U.S., according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Back in 2010, the OECD found that Canadian men get paid an average of 20 per cent more than their female counterparts.

Only Korea, Japan and Germany ranked higher than Canada in the report. On average, the report found that men's wages across the OECD countries were 18 per cent higher than women's.

The Canadian government's Pay Equity Commission website addresses the wage gap. It cites the finding that "statisticians estimate that as much as 10 to 15 per cent of the gender wage gap is due to discrimination."

The site also lists several possible reasons for the discrepancy in pay, including "occupational segregation in historically undervalued and low-paying jobs, such as childcare and clerical work" and "discrimination in hiring, promotion and compensation practices in the workplace."

If you're looking for a reason (other than simple fairness) why we should work to close the gap, another OECD report released this past December says that trimming the workplace gender gap by half could significantly lift GDP growth rates.

"Investment in gender equality yields the highest returns of all development investments," the OECD said.

"Gender inequality means not only forgoing the important contributions that women make to the economy, but also wasting years of investment in educating girls and young women."



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