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  • Jordan Strate

Breaking Down the Wage Gap: Facts, Figures, and Solutions

Updated: Apr 8

As we celebrate International Women's Day, it's crucial to reflect on the progress made in achieving gender equality in the workplace while acknowledging the systemic issues that persist. While strides have been made, there's still much ground to cover to ensure that women have equal opportunities, representation, and recognition in every sector and at every level of the workforce.

Challenges Faced by Women in the Workplace

Despite significant advancements, women continue to meet various challenges in the workplace. Gender bias, wage gaps, lack of representation in leadership roles, and inadequate support for work-life balance are among the systemic issues that continue to affect career trajectories.

The persistent wage gap further exacerbates disparities, with women earning less than their male counterparts. It’s important to note that though the wage gap can manifest itself in women being paid unequally for the same work, this only accounts for an element of the broader system that creates this inequality. In fact, a more substantial source of discrepancy comes from job segregation where women work in lower paid job categories or industry sectors.

64% of management jobs are occupied by men, compared to the 35.6% occupied by women. And men are highly represented in trades, manufacturing, and natural and applied sciences, which tend to be well-compensated and are more likely to benefit from union benefits.

Furthermore, more men (87%) are employed full-time than women (75.6%). This could partially be a result of the fact that women’s time is more often taken up with unpaid work than men’s. Women spend an average of 3.6 hours or 15% of their day on unpaid domestic and care work compared to the average of 2.4 hours or 10% for men.

Regardless, wage gaps occur in all sectors at all levels of qualification. For example, women executives make about 56% less on average than men executives. The gap widens even further for racialized women, who make about 32% less than non-visible minorities.

However, targeted discrimination, whether intentional or subconscious, still exists with gender bias remaining a significant obstacle in the workplace. Women often face stereotypes and preconceived notions about their abilities and competence, this bias can manifest itself in hiring decisions, and being looked over for promotions or training opportunities.

According to a 2021 self-report survey, women’s pre-tax salaries were 21% lower than men’s, while additional variable compensation, such as bonuses, profit-sharing or equity agreements, showed where the disparity surges; Canadian working women earned 43% less in additional compensation compared to men in 2020.

As I hope I’ve made clear, the wage gap is a complex phenomenon that is influenced by a multitude of factors that reflects broader systemic issues that continue to undermine women's contributions in the workforce. One final point I’d like to make is that Statistics Canada conducted a 10-year study that noted that nearly ⅔ of the studied gender pay gap is unexplained. This means that this persistent, systemic problem is impossible to solve exclusively with legislation and equity initiatives.

That being said, many organizations have made great strides in shortening the gap for their employees.

How to Drive Change

Despite the challenges, companies have embraced numerous initiatives to promote gender equality and empower women in the workplace.

1. E.D.I Programs:

Many companies are implementing diversity and inclusion programs aimed at fostering a culture of belonging and equity. These initiatives include prioritizing diversity of creed and opinion in hiring, providing employees with unconscious bias training, and promoting inclusive leadership practices.

2. Pay Equity Measures:

Governments and organizations are increasingly prioritizing pay equity measures to address wage disparities based on gender. Transparent salary policies, regular pay audits, and accountability mechanisms help ensure that everyone receives due pay for due work.

3. Mentorship and Leadership Development:

Mentorship and leadership development programs play a crucial role in supporting career advancement. By providing mentorship opportunities, leadership training, and networking events, organizations empower women to overcome barriers and excel in professional endeavors.

4. Flexible Work Arrangements:

Recognizing the importance of work-life balance, many companies offer flexible work arrangements, including remote work options, flexible hours, and parental leave policies that help assuage the “motherhood penalty” felt by employees. These initiatives enable women to better manage their professional and personal responsibilities while receiving adequate compensation and career advancement opportunities.

5. Advocacy and Policy Reform:

Advocacy groups and policymakers are advocating for legislative reforms and policy changes to address gender inequality in the workplace. Measures such as expanding paid parental leave, affordable childcare, and anti-discrimination laws are essential for promoting gender equality and supporting women's participation in the workforce.

As we celebrate International Women's Day, I hope this blog reaffirms your commitment to achieving gender equality in your organization. Many measures in concert are required to end the gender pay gap. It’s important to do what you can to help build a future where every woman feels they have the opportunity to fulfill their potential and contribute their talents to the world.


All incidents and examples portrayed in this work are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, organizations, and products is intended or should be inferred.

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