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

The Town of Creston was added to the SeeClickFix mobile app earlier this week. Photo: Aaron Hemens
Town of Creston looking to improve response to non-emergency requests through new program

Through the SeeClickFix mobile app, residents can submit requests for issues such as pot-holes, graffiti, defective streetlights and more. Users can include a photo and pin the location of the issue to the app’s GPS feature.

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Tia Wayling is the recreation services coordinator with the Regional District of Central Kootenay. File photo
Rec Perspectives: Use Family Day to Restore Well-Being

“While the usual celebrations and gatherings are not happening, the whole premise behind this fairly-new appointed statutory holiday is so families can take a break from hectic schedules and spend some quality time together sometime during the long weekend.”

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons. File photo.
MP Morrison calls Keystone XL permit cancellation ‘devastating news’

Kootenay-Columbia MP reacts to the Conservative Party’s removal of a controversial Ontario MP

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Most Read