Schools Training

Gender Inequalities in the Workforce

23 MAY 2012
Career Path : Healthcare

Canadians have made significant strides in establishing gender equality in the workforce. With a history of remarkable milestones, such as Jenny Trout becoming the first female licensed doctor in 1875, and Jeanne Mathilde Sauvè becoming the nation’s first female governor general in 1984, women continue to mark their places in labour market.

According to Statistics Canada, the total population of employed people in Canada in 2011 was 52.5 percent male and 47.5 percent female. Although not quite a perfect 50/50 split, the overall gender difference in the Canadian labour market hovers closely over the equality mark.

That is not to say that gender inequalities do not exist in today’s workforce. According to a 2011 study released by Statistics Canada, it seems industries tend to employ more of one gender than of the other. For example, of the people working within the Goods-and-Services sector, 71.1 percent are men and 21.9 percent are women. When we take a closer look, we notice that this gender gap persists in every industry within this sector:

  • Agriculture: 70.5 percent by men – 29.5 percent by women
  • Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas: 81.8 percent by men – 18.2 percent by women
  • Utilities: 75.2 percent by men – 24.8 percent by women
  • Construction: 88.8 percent by men – 11.2 percent by women
  • Manufacturing 71.2 percent by men – 28.8 percent by women

The division of genders can be quite alarming as we notice how men are much more likely than women to hold jobs within the Goods-and-Services sector. But there is more of a gender balance in the Services-Producing sector. As a whole, 45 percent of the sector is employed by males, and 55 percent by females. This division exists in:

  • Trade: 51.3 percent by men – 48.7 percent by women
  • Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing: 43.6 percent by men – 56.4 percent by women
  • Public administration: 48.8 percent by men – 51.2 percent by women

But this level of gender equality in the Services-Producing sector does not exist across all industries. The following are certain industries that show more apparent disparities:

  • Transportation and warehousing: 76 percent by men – 24 percent by women
  • Educational services: 34 percent by men – 66 percent by women
  • Health care and social assistance: 18 percent by men – 82 percent by women

Of all of the industries within both sectors, the Construction industry and the Healthcare and social assistance industry persist with more-or-less the same levels of gender inequality, with the former being predominantly male and the latter female.

Although Construction and Healthcare are two very different industries, the lesser represented genders in both seem to face the same sort of hurdles. For one, women in Construction and men in Healthcare run into issues of unavailable equipment and facilities. For example, construction gear (boots, hard-hats, etc.) are typically fitted and sold to a male population. Male nurses, on the other hand, have been known to work in a healthcare environment where the only staff facility or changing room is a ladies restroom.

While these industries still have a long way ahead of them before reaching better gender equality, there is evidence of ongoing progress. For example, the nursing industry has been seeing a regular increase of male employees over the past five years, reaching its all-time height of 6 percent in 2011.

Needless to say, schools of nursing across the country are expecting more and more men to be applying to nursing programs. And while there won’t be as many men as women in nursing school anytime soon, it seems the industry is heading towards a level of equality we’ve never before seen.