Canadian women earn $0.87 for every $1.00 men earn - Let's close that gap

Catherine Mayer’s new book, Attack of the 50 FT. Women, is a call to battle.  It is a great analysis that sadly demonstrates just how much work we still need to do to both achieve gender equality and hold onto the progress we have made.  Mayer expertly describes how we are “stranded in an endless waiting game”.  It is like we are in Alice in Wonderland and the White queen is saying “The rule is jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never jam today”[1]

The World Economic Forum predicts that it will take 170 years for economic parity to be achieved[2].  In Canada, despite a passionate and committed prime minister who has appointed the first ever gender balanced cabinet, we continue to struggle with this issue.  “Canadian women earned $0.87 for every dollar made by men in 2015”[3] and when you look at total annual earnings (taking into consideration price and volume of labour provided), “women earned $0.74 cents for every dollar earned by men” [4] due to the fact that they often take on a greater burden for child rearing and family support.

We continuously hear a breadth of reasons as to why this is including the fact that that traditional women’s work pays less than traditional men’s work, that women have higher representation in lower wage occupations and that more women work part-time than men.

Yes, this is a complex issue but the progress we are making is just not sufficient.  In addition to the issues outlined above, I believe that there exists a lack of accountability, limited valuation positive external benefits women deliver to families and consistent pressure for gender wage parity. 

How many quotas have we instituted in the last decade? What incentives and penalties have we created to ensure that all intuitions including governments, businesses, not for profits and academic organizations are making meaningful progress on this issue?  What are our plans to close the gender wage gap in under 170 years???

Equally important is asking, how we as individual women can help to create consistent pressure to close that gap.  Robert Collier said “success is the sum of small efforts – repeated day in and day out”.  What if we Canadian women were consistently taking small steps to advance this issue?

In the spirit of meaningful progress, I have highlighted three actions most individuals within an organization can take:

1.     Connect with colleagues within the organization and share salary information.  This may be uncomfortable at first but knowledge is power.  Understanding different salary ranges, negotiation tactics, progression strategies is critical to being able to effectively advocate for individual and collective income advancement.  If you feel uncomfortable sharing specific salary ranges, use glassdoor and suggest your colleagues do as well.  This will help build collective knowledge

2.     Ask your employer what the average wages are for males and females within your organization. We know there is significant business benefit and value from female leadership: a 2016 Forbes article outlines how a study of over 20,000 firms by Washington- based think tank, Peterson Institute for International Economics, found a strong statistical link between “the presence of women in corporate leadership positions and positive firm performance”[5].  Referencing this or other studies and asking your manager, department head, CEO or HR lead can be a good way to constructively help your organization and female colleagues benefit

3.     Ask your employer what strategies they are working on and how you can help? Showing that you care about both the organization and the issue of gender equity is very important.  Your employer may already have a number of strategies ranging from recruitment processes to progression within the organization.  Finding out what they are working on and how you can participate is a great step forward.  And if they are not working on anything, the discussion is a great catalyst for action


* If the call to battle engaged you and you followed any of the suggestions, please let Strive know.  If you enjoyed this article and think it was helpful, please share it. If you have suggestions for others and or would like to tell your story, please comment or send Strive an email.




[1] Mayer, Catherine, Attack of the 50 FT. Women, Harper Collins, 2017.

[2] Treanor, Jill, Gender pay gap could take 170 years to close says World Economic Forum, the guardian, October 25, 2016.

[3] Israel, Solomon, StatsCan on gender pay gap:  Women earn $0.87 to Men’s $1.00

[4] Israel, Solomon, StatsCan on gender pay gap:  Women earn $0.87 to Men’s $1.00

[5] Lipman, Victor, The Best Reason Yet to Increase Women in Business Leadership, Forbes, February 23, 2016