According to a B.C. study, published on Monday, July 6, 2020, in Canadian Public Policy, the pre-existing gender pay gap has created an incentive in many households for fathers to remain in the workforce. (Pixabay photo)

According to a B.C. study, published on Monday, July 6, 2020, in Canadian Public Policy, the pre-existing gender pay gap has created an incentive in many households for fathers to remain in the workforce. (Pixabay photo)

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

As the Canadian economy reopens amid COVID-19, mothers are much less likely to be back at work than fathers — a gender gap that has been widening since the pandemic began, new University of B.C. study has found.

UBC researchers analyzed Statistics Canada’s labour force survey, a set of data collected every month that provides the most current snapshot of the country’s labour market, to determine how the gender employment gap changed from February to May.

According to the study, published this week in Canadian Public Policy, the pre-existing gender pay gap has created an incentive in many households for fathers to remain in the workforce. The most recent data on the pay gap shows that women earn 87 cents for every dollar earned by men in Canada.

The study looked at the gender, education level, and the age of the youngest child among 110,000 people. It did not include LGBTQ2+ couples.

READ MORE: ‘Daddy bonus’ common in B.C. workplaces, study finds

Sociology professor Sylvia Fuller, who conducted the study with Yue Qian, said the results show the pandemic has not been the “great equalizer” for gendered employment culture, which has historically allowed for straight, white men to excel while pushing many women into domestic roles. 

“Yes, we’re all living with the threat of sickness and with fallout in terms of change to our daily lives, but just as some people have proved to be more vulnerable to getting really sick, some groups are more vulnerable economically and socially as a result of the pandemic,” Fuller said. “What we’re seeing here is mothers rather than fathers having their employment really dramatically impacted.”

The two researchers found the change has been particularly striking among less-educated parents.

For parents with high school education or less, whose children are elementary-school age, women’s employment trailed men by 1.6 percentage points in February. By May, that gap had multiplied more than 10 times to 16.8 percentage points.

Among university-educated parents, a gender gap appeared in the early days of the pandemic but was short-lived and had closed by April.

READ MORE: Flexible hours as new mothers re-enter workforce could ease wage gap

Overall, for parents of all education levels, the gap has gone from 0.8 to 7.3 percentage points for parents of school-age children, and from 1.0 to 2.5 percentage points for parents of preschoolers.

Since COVID-19 touched down in Canada – detected first in B.C. in February – work and school routines have been drastically disrupted, bringing economic uncertainty and widespread layoffs.

Even if parents weren’t forced out of work, daycares and schools shuttered their doors for months, leaving many needing child-care solutions. 

In addition to the exiting gender pay gap, incentives for fathers to remain in the workforce as mothers homeschool children include mothers being more likely to work part-time jobs in retail and hospitality making them most vulnerable to layoffs, the study shows.

Fuller said the data points to the importance of a robust and well-funded public child care sector and other policy measures that will help less-educated mothers return to the labour market.

“If this persists as the economy opens up, if parents are still facing a summer with limited child care available, summer camps being closed, and uncertainty with schooling in the fall, then there’s a real danger that the pandemic will open up fault lines in men’s and women’s employment that will increase inequalities for a long time to come,” Fuller said.

The federal government began quietly probing how child care fits into post-pandemic recovery in May but reform measures have yet to be announced.

ALSO READ: Feds probing ways to address COVID-19 impact on women


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Golden Rotary Club president Isabelle Simard presents a check in Invermere to the winner of Golden’s bingo. (Michele LaPointe photo)
Golden Bingo continues to grow; expands to other BC communities

The money is going back into the community through various Rotary projects

Calls for potential overdoses in B.C. spiked in 2020, especially in the Okanagan - Shuswap. Pictured above is a BCEHS re-enactment of paramedics attending an overdose. (BCHES)
Overdose calls spike in 2020 across the Okanagan – Shuswap

Stats show every major community in Okanagan - Shuswap increased in calls for potential overdoses

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

Vacciniation is underway in Golden as of Friday, Jan. 15. (Federico Gambarini/dpa via AP)
Vaccination underway in Golden

Long-term care residents and staff have been prioritized, April is the goal for public vaccination

The BC SPCA is adapting its fundraising after cancelling events due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
BC SPCA gets creative with fundraising as pandemic continues

The non-profit’s in-person fundraising events all had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions

Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)
Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

Most cases are related to transmission at social events and gatherings in Williams Lake

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a single-vehicle rollover Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, after a vehicle came into contact with a pedestrian light pole at Kalamalka Lake Road and 14th Avenue. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Minor injuries in rollover after vehicle hits Vernon crosswalk pole

The vehicle flipped onto its side, closing Kalamalka Lake Road

Penticton city council heard from Dhorea Ramanula, of Paid Employment for People with Lived Experiences Tuesday, Jan. 19. Ramanula’s organization has operated public washrooms in Kelowna staffed by community support workers since April, she says Penticton could benefit from a similar facility. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)
Penticton interested in new public washroom concept to combat vandalism

Public washrooms with on-site support staff have been operating in Kelowna since April

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Canada Post had remove a lot of letter boxes around Penticton after they were vandalized. This letter box at the United Church on Main St. remains unscathed. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Street mailbox vandals strike Penticton drop boxes

Canada Post had to remove a bunch of the vandalized units

Esa Carriere, 23, was the victim of a 2018 Canada Day homicide. (File)
Youth sentenced in Kelowna Canada Day killing

Young woman pleaded guilty to lesser assault charge, sentenced to 15-month intensive support and supervision program

A rendering of UBC’s planned downtown Kelowna campus. (Contributed)
Kelowna’s new downtown campus to help alleviate UBCO’s space crunch

The sizable development is anticipated to be completed by the fall 2024 semester

Most Read