In general, the gender pay gap refers to the difference in average earnings of people based on gender. It is a widely recognized indicator of gender inequities, and it exists across industries and professional levels. There are different ways of measuring the gap, but no matter how you measure it, the gap still exists.
The gender pay gap is worse for those who face multiple barriers, including racialized women, Indigenous women, and women with disabilities. Though it differs by age group, the gap starts from a young age and carries into the senior years (Moyser, Statistics Canada, 2019).
Pay inequity is so important because earnings are a key determinant of economic well-being in Canada. It is also “symbolic of gender-based discrimination and injustice” (Moyser, Statistics Canada, 2019).
The UN’s Human Rights Committee (2015) has raised concerns about “persisting inequalities between women and men” in Canada, including the “high level of the pay gap” and its disproportionate effect on low-income women, racialized women, and Indigenous women.
The gender pay gap is directly connected to other economic-related gender gaps, including fields of study and work, career advancement opportunities, and time allotted to unpaid care and domestic work (OECD, 2012).
According to the OECD (2022), for full-time employees, there is a 16.1% difference between annual median earnings of women and men relative to the annual median earnings of men. In its ranking of countries, Canada has the eighth worst gender pay gap.
Last Update: March 15, 2022