New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women Says Pay Gap Must GoWednesday, July 28 2010
New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women Says Pay Gap Must Go
"Introduce your daughter to the facts of life: Give her 79% of your son's allowance." That is one of the key messages of an information campaign launched today by the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women on the gap between women's and men's average salaries.
"The first step to closing the pay gap is saying that the gap is unacceptable," according to Dr. Mary Lou Stirling, Chairperson of the Advisory Council. "When the hourly wage of all women and men in the paid workforce in this province are compared, women are earning on average 79% of what men earn. It is time to bring focus on closing the pay gap in New Brunswick."
Dr. Stirling said some campaign messages were chosen with parents in mind, such as "Introduce your daughter to the facts of life: Give her 79% of your son's allowance." Another message, aimed at employers and employees in traditionally female jobs, is that jobs of equal value to an employer should get equal pay.
"We know the pay gap is caused by several factors, some of which parents and girls can change, some of which employers and unions can change, and some of which governments can change. Women are as educated as men, we have entered many non-traditional fields and we work in the paid labour force for many more years than we did 20 years ago and yet the pay gap has changed very little in those years.
Dr. Stirling said the fact that women are still clustered in lower status jobs and are under-represented in many occupations including management is a terrible waste, in terms of our economy, of human lives and of the investment that has been made in women's education.
"Women's groups in New Brunswick have consistently said that the pay gap is a priority," said Dr. Stirling. "The pay gap reflects women's unequal status but it is also a symptom of inefficiencies in the labour market. The provincial government's Wage Gap Roundtable is a sign that we are beginning to take responsibility for the pay gap. Our campaign should assist in that objective by making more people aware of the pay gap and the factors that contribute to it. "
"While a small part of the gap is caused by life choices, for example fewer women accept to move for a position, most of the pay gap is caused by open or subtle discrimination and attitudes in society. Almost half the difference between women's and men's average pay is thought to be caused by the age-old tradition of paying "women's" jobs less than jobs usually held by men. The skills, effort and responsibility required to do many traditionally female jobs are often under-appreciated by society and employers."
Other types of discrimination also contribute to the pay gap, according to the Advisory Council. For example, some women are paid less than men doing the same job. Women interrupt their careers more often than men, sometimes because of sexual harassment, discrimination against childbearing women, lack of access to child care services, violence, and unequal division of labour in the home.
The actions that the Advisory Council campaign suggests would contribute to closing the gap include getting more women and girls into non-traditional professions and occupations, creating employment equity and pay equity through legislation, contract compliance and tax incentives programs, so that women's traditional jobs are paid according their real value to the employer and women get a fair share of hirings and promotions. The Council also advocates adjusting the minimum wage according to an objective standard such as the poverty line and paying part-time workers pro-rated pay and benefits.
Given the reality of women's greater responsibility for family care, paid parental leaves and other family-friendly programs as well as affordable child care in all regions would contribute to equalizing the conditions of working women and men. Discrimination in hiring, pay and promotion against women, pregnant women or women of child-bearing years should be more actively discouraged, investigated and corrected.
The Advisory Council will be holding meetings around the province and offering materials for workshop facilitators such as women's groups and teachers.
For further information, contact the Chairperson Dr. Mary Lou Stirling or the Executive Director Rosella Melanson at 444-4101 or 1-800-332-3087.To order the posters and brochures of Closing the Pay Gap In N.B. campaign, go to www.acswcccf.nb.ca.