By Jessica Berget, Editor-in-Chief
One of the major reasons people cite a need for International Women’s Day (that I didn’t get to mention in this week’s feature) is the gender wage gap. The idea is that women are paid less than men for the same work—about 79 cents to the man’s dollar, so they say. While many cite this as proof of the oppression women still face in our society, many claim it has been debunked.
A Statistics Canada report shows the contrast of the average income of full-time full-year employees by gender. Looking at the numbers it’s clear that there is a disparity on the women’s side—with only $55,300 compared to men’s $74,200 in 2017. Another Stat Can page says that in 2018, 25 to 54-year-old female employees earned about $4 less per hour than their male counterparts, making the wage gap then 87 for every dollar a man earns. Let’s look at the side that says this wage gap is a misunderstanding that has been pushed too far.
What is concerning is the little context these numbers are given. What they fail to mention are the hours worked, qualifications, or the various chosen careers of those employed—and these are all important things to consider; numbers need context.
Women are more likely to choose to focus on their families rather than work, and also more likely to take lower income or temporary jobs in order to prioritize their familial responsibilities. This is the common trend among the gender, and it does offer an explanation as to why such a wage gap might exist. These facts explain that the cause for the wage gap are not necessarily as blatantly sexist or negative as many dictate.
This is not to say that some women aren’t chosen for jobs or given raises solely due to their gender—bias is a very real thing, and everyone has it whether they are conscious of it or not. Surely it happens with all kinds of people of all genders. However, the statistics of the wage gap needs to be supplied by a lot contextual information before we can say for sure that women are being paid less solely because of their sex. It is vital that before we make hostile claims about society, that we ensure that our evidence isn’t based on misunderstood numerical data.