If you’ve been paying attention to the news cycle, you might have noticed that female empowerment has been a huge theme this past year. From the prominence of the #MeToo movement, to a record number of female leaders emerging in politics, to tough discussions about sexism and gender representation at some of Silicon Valley’s largest tech companies, it’s been a banner year for women. However, there’s a lot you might not know about women in the workplace. Here are some surprising stats that everyone, male and female, should be aware of.


1. over 80% of women work outside the home

Today, 81.9% of Canadian women work outside of the home in some capacity. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 90.5% of men work outside the home. On the bright side, these numbers indicate that the workforce participation gap has closed significantly over the last half-century. In 1953 less than 25% of women worked outside the home, compared to 95% of men. Notable gains in gender equality were made in the 60s, 70s and 80s, with more and more women joining the workforce. However, since 2002, the gap has stopped closing and the workforce participation rate has held steady for both men and women.

2. in canada women make 74 cents on the dollar

Though Canada is often hailed as an excellent place for women to live and work, our wage gap is worse than in many other developed countries. According to the Pay Equity Commission, women who work full-time in Canada, make 26% less than men, on average. That works out to 74 cents on the dollar. Some of the many countries with a smaller wage gap include Mexico, the Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland, France, Iceland, Spain, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand, Belgium, Italy and Luxembourg, to name a (large) handful. Among the few with worse gaps are South Korea, Japan, Israel and the United States.

3. women in canada are more educated than men

Though women have plateaued when it comes to workforce participation and earnings, there’s hope for the future. Today’s young Canadian women are the most educated in history. As it stands, Canada is the most educated nation in the world with 54% of Canadians holding some kind of post-secondary education. And women are earning the majority of those degrees. 58% of degrees or post-secondary diplomas earned in Canada are obtained by women. In 2013, for the first time ever, the number of women graduating with PhDs also outpaced the number of men, and the gap is only growing.

4. women in unions have a smaller wage gap

Though unions are frequently demonized in modern conversations as ‘job killers’ or ‘anti-business’, unions are getting some things right. Women who are part of a union have a smaller wage gap than their non-union counterparts. And it’s not a small difference, either. For example: the average wage gap in Ontario in 2015 was 17.6% for non-union workers. Women who were a part of a union had a wage gap of 7%. That’s less than half! To put that in perspective, if a man makes $50,000, a non-unionized woman will make $41,200, whereas a unionized woman will make $46,500. That’s a huge difference.

5. the lifetime earnings lost due to the wage gap could buy a house

If you add up the lifetime earnings women lose out on, simply by being women, you could buy a house! The average income for Canadian men was $52,600 in 2016. If you compare that to the average women’s income of $36,900 and multiply the difference over a 45-year career, it adds up to a whopping $706,500! And that’s just the average. That’ll buy you a house just about anywhere in Canada, including in Toronto and Vancouver, two of Canada’s most notoriously tight housing markets.

6. women contribute 46.7% of their household income

Despite earning less, women make up almost half of the income in the average Canadian household. The share of household income contributed by women has been on a steady upward trajectory. In 1976, women contributed an average of 24.5% to their total household income. Though women are contributing more to their household in a monetary sense, that doesn’t mean that they’re reducing their responsibility in other areas. Women are increasingly expected to bring in income, while also performing domestic responsibilities. 80% of household chores are performed by women, most of whom work full-time.

7. women like their jobs more than men

Women who work full-time tend to be happier in their jobs than men. Maybe it’s because they’ve fought hard for the right to be there, but 44% of women report being happy in their job compared to 35% of men. The numbers get even more positive the higher women climb up the corporate ladder. Women who are in a position of director or higher reported being enthusiastic about their job 70% percent of the time, compared to 50% of men. 95% of women also reported feeling like their job was worthwhile and important (compared to 78% of men.)

8. girls score well in reading, science and math tests

If we go back to early education, girls are more likely to score higher on reading tests than their male counterparts. The two genders score about equal on science. When it comes to math, girls score slightly lower. However, according to the Statistics Canada study, both girls and boys in Canada score above the OECD average in all areas. So, intellectually, there is no reason women in Canada aren’t capable of a high level of achievement in STEM fields. Yet, girls with strong mathematical ability remain less likely to pursue careers in STEM. This highlights the imbalance in careers girls and boys are encouraged to pursue. To close the gap in STEM jobs down the line, we must build a stronger foundation for girls to get into STEM early.

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