The most recent Statistics Canada figures show that women are still earning only 85 cents for every dollar paid to men in a comparison of full-time, permanent employment with “similar labour market experience”. That figure hasn’t changed much in over 10 years.
I don’t think this means, for instance, that a female vice-president of a bank is going to be making 15% less than a male vice-president of that same bank – all other things being equal. What it does mean, I believe, is that there are more women in lower paying jobs and more men in higher paying jobs.
A significant factor causing this ongoing discrepancy, they reckon, is that women are taking time off from work to have and raise children. This seems to hamper their career mobility.
Is that reasonable or fair?
My employer has a very generous 5-year extended child-care leave program, which I took advantage of. I only got paid for one year of what’s called “parental leave”, but they held a position for me for 5 years. The 5 years are also still pensionable time which I had to buy back when I returned to work.
Of course, I went back to work at the same level at which I left. If I’d been at work during those 5 years of federal government plenty, I might have been able to move up 2 or even 3 levels during that time period.
Even when I was back at work, I was only there for my 7.5 hours a day. I wasn’t able or willing to work overtime or travel (both of which are written and unwritten requirements of many higher level positions). I stayed home when the kid was sick and re-arranged my schedule for PD days or other school holidays. On top of all that, I went back just when the whole staffing freeze roller-coaster began. So, all things considered, I haven’t experienced a whole lotta upward mobility in my career.
Many other women have similar career experiences to lesser or greater degrees and for the same sorts of reasons. Meanwhile, our male counterparts, who may have started their careers at the same time and at the same level have zoomed into middle and upper management positions.
Because they’ve been there. They’ve put in 60-80 hours a week; they’ve spent much of the last 15 years in meetings and hotel rooms; dealing with staffing headaches, prostrating themselves to their seniors; bringing stacks of work home every evening and weekend; not taking vacations.
To me, they’re more than welcome to that extra 15% in salary.
I have never for an instant regretted those first 5 years I was home with my daughter. Even now, I have no interest in climbing any corporate ladders. I don’t want to give up that much of my life or time with my family.
I’m sure there are women who want it all and are somehow managing to get it all or at least most of whatever all is. But, I would hazard to guess that the majority of women have different priorities. I suggest perhaps that’s why there are fewer women in politics or in the upper echelons of corporate power and that’s why the male-female salary gap continues to exist.
So, maybe those pay equity figures are misleading? Maybe they don’t represent inequality? Maybe they represent fundamental differences in how men and women perceive success in life?
Or maybe I’m living in a happy government fantasy land and the Old Boys are still out there slapping women’s behinds and making sure they don’t get any ideas beyond that Glass Ceiling and we should all be outraged?