“Since gendered expectations and social norms are clearly important factors in the gender wage gap, closing the gender gap will require broad societal changes,” says the Aug. 28 briefing note prepared for Paul Rochon, the deputy minister of finance.
The memo from the federal Department of Finance for its most senior permanent official outlines several reasons why progress on levelling the income-earning playing field between men and women in Canada has remained largely stalled since the 1990s, and suggests future efforts, including public policy, should focus on those areas.
The analysis shows that while Canadian women now achieve higher levels of education than men, and pursue high-earning careers in greater numbers, the fact that women bear children — and bear the bulk of responsibility to raise them — remains a factor in lower pay.
“Because of social norms, women take on a greater share of household and familial responsibilities, which conflicts with paid work responsibilities,” said the memo, which The Canadian Press obtained through the Access to Information Act.
“Lack of workforce continuity and loss of human capital have negative consequences for women’s labour market outcomes,” says the memo, adding that the gender wage gap is roughly halved for women who do not have children.
The memo notes that advancing gender equality has been a top priority of the Liberal government.
That includes requiring the federal budget to undergo a gender-based analysis, which involves thinking about how measures might affect men and women, or boys and girls, in different ways, while taking into account other factors such as income, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation.
“This strategy helps track developments and minimize the negative effects of policy decisions on gender equality,” the memo says.
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