The need for work is a constant one. People constantly need a source of income to be able to provide not only for themselves, but for other family members they may need to take care of. However, it cannot be neglected that earning said income is often much easier for some than it is for others. This ability to acquire a job or get a certain level of income can be based on: religion, sexuality or, most notably, gender.

What is the gender wage gap?

The Gender Wage Gap is the difference in average earnings between Men and Women, it is commonly said that women make “around 75 cents for every dollar a man makes.” The wage gap itself has been calculated in a multitude of ways. However, the consensus has maintained relatively the same (with some surveyors having opposing opinions,) which is that there is some kind of wage gap present. Whether that be 75 cents for every dollar or 90 cents for every dollar, a gap exists nonetheless. There are many factors that may play a role in the wage gap itself, whether that be due to educational or lifestyle discrepancies between the two sexes. However, to say that the gender wage gap is based solely on those two factors would be to ignore the glaringly obvious, that discriminations can be made based on sex and this can sadly transfer to the workplace. Both the educational and lifestyle differences, although they are just that, can be used against women as not only reasons to pay them less but reasons to not even hire them at all.


Both the educational and lifestyle differences between the two sexes can be tied back to societal expectations that are ascribed to each. It is expected for men to go to school, get a degree and become the breadwinner of their families while women are expected to become wives and start families. While it has started to become more acceptable for women to hold job positions, these expectations have still carried on. Now, it is okay for a woman to get a job and a high-paying position, but, she must ensure these “plans” do not interfere with the “need” to start a family. So while the idea of being a stay-at-home mother may no longer run rampant, the image of what motherhood is, still permeates through our modern society, impacting the kind of education women get, how far they go, or if they even go at all. More notably, this presumption that a woman will be pregnant follows them into the workplace, most importantly, whenever they’re job-searching. Most employers are unwilling to run the “risk” of employing a woman and then having her immediately apply for maternity leave, alongside this, they also tend to avoid women who already have children. They try to circumnavigate having to hire married women, especially young, married women and already pregnant women.

The Actual Gap

While those are all factors that are capable of preventing women from even entering the workplace at all, we’ve yet to consider the actual gap itself. While it is widely disputed whether or not the wage gap is an actual phenomenon, there are studies that both prove or disprove its existence. The main reason for this is that women do tend to go for part-time positions more often than their male counterparts, once again this is due to the notion of motherhood prevalent in our society. Occupational segregation/discrimination also drives the wage gap in which “female-typical jobs” like nursing tend to earn less than “male-driven jobs” like doctors, thus furthering increasing the gap. Just in Canada alone, there was reported that in 2021, female employees earned 11.1% less per hour than their male counterparts. Most notably, this wage gap increases for women of colour, who are often put in a position where discrimination is highly likely in which assumptions can be made about education, lifestyle etc. However, while the wage gap is certainly real, it is important to note that the work that goes into calculating the wage gap is incapable of accounting for these educational, lifestyle and occupational discrepancies. 

Graph that depicts the decrease in the wage gap in Canada from 1998-2021, in which we can notice the current 11.1% gap between men and women in 2021

With the cost of living rapidly increasing, it’s important to acknowledge the differences that exist in income between members of society and examine the reasons why. Being able to understand the “why” will help to make us aware of the difficulties in the job-market that may exist not only for us, but others and how we may help or how we ourselves may feed into these biases.

Table that depicts just some of the differences that exist between the average earnings of minorities in 2021 from ages 25-54

Cover photo obtained from NBC News by Nick Kiray

About the Author

Hi! I'm a blog writer for WEW at the uofa! I'm in my first year majoring in biology and love consuming any forms of media I can: music, reading and movies, I love them all! I hope you enjoy my blogs and come back to WEW to read more!