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

Left to right: A screenshot of NTC nurse navigator Lesley Cerney, FNHA regional mental health manager Georjeana Paterson and Island Health’s medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns addressing Ehattesaht community members from Ehatis reserve in a Facebook live update. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Medical team sent to Ehatis reserve near Zeballos to guide community through COVID outbreak

17 cases, eight recoveries and no hospitalizations as Island Health praises First Nation’s response

Although B.C. has not made masks mandatory in public indoor spaces, some business owners are requiring all customers to wear them before entering their store. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Campbell River businesses not immune to mask refusals and disturbances

Police have not handed out fines yet under the new provincial mandate

The Rotary Rock and Roll trail ready to ride. Photo supplied by Bryan Yells
PHOTOS: River City Cycle Club opens new mountain bike trail

Trail building seen as way of giving back to trail network

Campbell River fire crews had a busy day on Nov. 28, 2020. Photo by Marc Kitteringham/Campbell River Mirror.
Campbell River fire crews kept busy on Saturday

Medical, vehicle and fire calls kept crews moving all day

Shawn Decaire does a blessing ceremony for the Hama?Elas Community Kitchen in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Community Kitchen blessed by Laichwiltach First Nation

Hama?Elas Community Kitchen will provide safe place to eat for Campbell River’s vulnerable

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

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

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Most Read