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Overview of the status of women in Canada’s Labour Market


7 September 2023 — According to 2021 data from Statistics Canada, 68% of women aged 20 to 54 were employed full-time – up from 65% in 2007. This positive increase is a reflection on the following:

  • Increased workforce participation: over the past few decades, there has been a significant increase in women’s workforce participation in Canada. More women are pursuing careers and contributing to the economy.
  • Educational attainment: women’s educational attainment has also improved, with a higher percentage of women completing post-secondary education than men. This has led to greater representation of women in professional and managerial roles.
  • Closing gender wage gap: although there is still work to be done, the gender wage gap in Canada has been slowly narrowing. Efforts to promote pay equity and increased awareness of gender-based wage disparities have contributed to this progress.
  • Representation in leadership positions: women have made strides in breaking through the glass ceiling and occupying leadership positions in various sectors, including politics, business, and academia.
  • Maternity and parental leave policies: Canada has implemented progressive maternity and parental leave policies, providing women with more support during pregnancy and childbirth while maintaining job security.

Enduring challenges

In Canada, the gender wage gap persists despite some progress made. Women still earn less than men on average, particularly women of colour, Indigenous women, and women with disabilities who face additional intersectional disparities.

Occupational segregation remains prevalent, with women underrepresented in STEM fields and overrepresented in lower-paying caregiving and service industries. Moreover, women bear a disproportionate burden of unpaid care work, impacting their career advancement and earning potential.

The underrepresentation of women in top leadership positions, coupled with their likelihood of working in part-time or precarious roles, affects job security and advancement opportunities. Discrimination and harassment in the workplace persist, creating a hostile environment for women.

Additionally, the high cost and limited availability of childcare services pose a significant barrier for women seeking full-time employment or career growth. Addressing these challenges is essential for achieving greater gender equality in the Canadian labour market.

Proactive measures

Addressing the gender wage gap, promoting diversity and inclusion in leadership, and tackling occupational segregation are critical areas that require continued attention and proactive measures.

Additionally, policies to support work-life balance, affordable childcare, and combatting workplace discrimination are essential to creating a more equitable and inclusive labour market for women in Canada. By actively addressing these challenges, Canada can further empower women in the workforce and help them harness their full potential for economic growth and social development.

Learn more from Statistics Canada.