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August 16, 2021

Why do women earn less than men?

While we’re far from perfect as a society, we’ve come a long way with regard to how women are treated in the workplace. 1282334_silhouettes_3

Gone are the days, certainly, of the Mad Men  era. Women are no longer viewed as curvy, lipstick-covered servants, rather seen as equals capable of matching and – in many cases – professionally surpassing their male counterparts.

So, why do women still earn a fraction of what men do?

You’ve no doubt heard of the discrepancies between the annual salaries of men and women in the modern workplace – but have you ever heard a satisfying explanation for why this is?

Consider that, during a time when women routinely achieve a higher level of education than men, men still earn just over 18 per cent* more on a full-time, hourly-wage basis than women, according to income data from 2009.

(This figure, 18.1 per cent, is actually less than the 18.2 per cent difference from 2008’s numbers.)

The New York Times recently took such an incongruity to task and came up with a few, if unsettling, conclusions.

By their count, the overarching reason for wage inconsistencies between men and women lies in the latter’s insistence on joining professions that routinely pay less.

Yes, not exactly rocket science, but the NYT points to occupations such as early education, special education, social work and family studies – which are statistically dominated by women workers – as an explanation for why women earn less. The thinking here being, by most tallies, these professions lead to the lowest salaries among the full-time working population.

Now, this is not a criticism of such professions; while historically offering low pay, there are many, many reasons women may continue to gravitate to this kind of caring, humanitarian-based work. But it doesn’t satisfy us that we can just point to women doing different jobs than men as the reason for earning lesser pay.

Because, how can we explain this? It’s just come out that Canadian women university professors earn a lower wage – by at least $15,000 per year in most cases – than the male professors at their same schools. So, there are no differences in occupation here. Same job. Same qualifications. Less pay. What gives?

While labour leaders debate the ongoing professor pay scandal across Canada, what do our MSN readers think? Why do you think women continue to earn less money than men?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...