All of these factors affect the gender income gap.2 Recent data released by Statistics Canada, for example, show that gender pay differences are wider among older workers in Canada. Women aged 25 to 34 earned 78.3 cents for each dollar received by their male counterparts in 2010. Among women aged 45 to 54, the ratio amounted to 75.7 cents.
Gender differences in earnings vary by occupation, with the largest income gap in health occupations, where women earned just 47 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2010. The gender income gap in this occupation has not changed much since 1986. Alternatively, women in natural and applied sciences occupations earned 94 cents for every dollar men earned in those occupations.
These gaps likely reflect differences in educational attainment. Unfortunately, the 2011 census did not gather data on income differences by gender and education. The 2006 census, however, revealed that increased educational attainment among women has traditionally helped to narrow the gender income gap, but it had little impact for younger women. In 1980, 17.8 per cent of Canadian women aged 25 to 29 employed on a full-time, full-year basis held a university degree. Although this proportion almost doubled to 34 per cent in 2000, there has been little change in the earnings ratios for this cohort. Statistics Canada points to rising earnings among young men with no university degree in recent years—due to jobs in the booming oil and constructions industries—as one possible reason for the stagnation in the gender income gap.
Education has been a factor, however, among new entrants into the labour market. In 2005, the gender income gap was narrower for those new entrants that had achieved higher levels of education than for their less-educated counterparts:
- Women aged 25 to 29 holding a graduate or professional diploma and working on a full-time, full-year basis earned 96 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts in 2005.
- Women with a bachelor’s degree earned 89 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.
- Women with a registered apprenticeship or trades certificate earned only 65 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.
- Young women with no high school diploma earned 67 cents for every dollar earned by young men with the same level of education.
For the most highly educated Canadian women, gender differences in earnings within identical occupations are generally very small among new entrants to the labour force.