Canada Reaches Pay Equity in One Field: New PhDs

Frustrated businesswoman at meeting
It probably won't surprise you to learn that male coworkers are still making more.

A new study has finally provided some good news when it comes to men and women receiving equal pay for equal work.

The bad news is that it only applies to one of the smallest demographics. According to the report, published late last month in the journal Higher Education Policy, male and female PhDs alike earn approximately $70,000 within the first three years of earning their doctoral degree.

One of the study’s co-authors described it as “the first time that I’ve seen at any level” that there is pay equity. The study, also found, however, that the lower the level of education, the greater the disparity in pay. Women in the trades earn about 25% less than their male coworkers.

So, those who don’t have the time or money to invest in a PhD are probably still out of luck.

Expectations of a Woman’s Role Likely Playing a Part

The study looked at college, university, and trade school graduates three years after graduation. This was to control for factors such as maternity leave, which are well known to affect pay.

The Canadian Human Rights Act treats the concept of equal pay for equal work as a human right. That means paying male and female employees different amounts for performing the same work is discrimination. And yet the pay gap persists.

The director of the University of Toronto’s Institute for Gender and the Economy said that societal expectations that women will spend more time at home with the kids can take hold long before parenthood occurs.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation also attributed the continuing pay gap to the value that society places on certain male- and female-dominated jobs. For instance, the group notes that truck drivers, of which 97% in Canada are male, have an average annual salary of $45,417; early childhood educators, of which 97% are female, earn an average annual salary of $25,334.

What Can You Do?

In addition to federal law, there is a slew of provincial and territorial laws protecting public and private employees’ rights to equal pay for equal work. But the law is complex, and employers are able to argue that things like seniority and merit affect the pay gap.

It is also difficult to find out if you are making less than male counterparts, because most people do not like to talk about what they make. But, if you have information that leads you to believe you are being treated unfairly, you could discuss your concerns with an employment law attorney, who can help you determine what your options are.

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