Something doesn’t add up (Girls can do math, right?)

So let me get this straight. As early as 13 years old, Canadian girls are outperforming boys in reading and math, and are as good at science.

When they graduate high school, they are more likely than men to go on to have a diploma, certificate or bachelor’s degree.

There are more women graduating from university annually than men.

And of those graduates, the only programs where men outnumber women are Architecture, Engineering and Related Degrees, and Mathematics, Computer and Information Sciences. There are more women than men with degrees in Agriculture, Physical and Life Sciences, Business, Education or Health.

And yet… and yet!

If you look at the hourly wages of permanent employees, Canadian women make an average of $19.94/hour while Canadian men make $23.97/hour! And if you say, well it’s unfair barganing practices, women can’t negotiate… then that should be controlled for by unionized jobs. Not the case: $24.01/hour for women while men make $25.55.

Given that the economic downturn was harder on men than women in terms of unemployment, helping the wage gap shrink, the mind boggles. I found an interesting bit of older information at Stats Can looking at the wage gap between women with and without children, which found that women without children earned 9% more than their counterparts with one child. “Aha!” you say, triumphantly as any good rhetorical puppet should. “It’s because they take a year off to have babies that sets them back in wages!”

Sadly, this is not the case, as the wage gap between the childless and mothers doesn’t begin until age 25, and if it were as simple as maternity leave, the gap would appear immediately. Interestingly, being more educated seems to exaggerate this gap.

Being good statisticians, they tried to elucidate why this gap might be there, and so they controlled for:
“age, years of education, work experience, marital status, full- or part-time status, union membership, employer size, family income (earnings from spouse and other family members as well as non-employment income), industry, occupation and management responsibilities…”
These factors taken out of the equation, there was still a statistically significant gap between childless women and women with children: 2% decrease with one child, and a 3% decrease for two.”

Is that it then? We tell our girls that they can be anything they want to be, we encourage them to do well in school and pursue the career of their choice. We tell them that they can have a family and a career – and then when they do, we punish them financially. Not because of how much experience or education they have, not because they’re part time, not because they enter lower paying industries. Just because they have children.

So, I guess it’s time to spread the word: tell your girls that they can be highly educated and have a high paying job… or they can have a family. And while we’re at it, tell your boys that they should be highly educated and have a family: They’ll make more money that way.