Gender equality has been on the agenda for several decades to end gender-based bias and provide equal opportunities for all, regardless of their gender. This includes equal opportunities in education and at work and the right to equal pay.

In this article, we look at the gender inequality statistics in Canada. Has the country succeeded in providing all genders with an equal footing, or do inequalities still exist at work and in society at large?

  • Gender Inequality Statistics for Canadians
  • Canada ranks 25th out of 146 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index.
  • Women in full-time employment earn 90 cents for every dollar men earn.
  • Women need, on average, fifteen and a half months to earn the same as men earn in twelve months.
  • Around 1.5 million women live in poverty in Canada.
  • Over three-quarters of all part-time workers in Canada were women in 2015.
  • Women accounted for 63% of job losses in April 2020.
  • Women hold 30.9% of senior management roles in Canada

Definition of Gender Equality

According to the UN Women, gender equality means that all genders have equal rights, opportunities, and responsibilities. This does not mean that everyone should be the same but that your rights and opportunities should not depend on your gender. It means that everyone’s interests and needs are equally important, and rather than being a “women’s issue”, it is an issue for everyone as gender equality will make life better for all.

Canada’s Ranking on The Global Gender Gap Index

In 2022, Canada placed 25th out of 146 countries compared for their gender parity in four key criteria. It had fallen back one place, having placed 24th overall in 2021. The countries with the best results were Iceland, Finland, and Norway.

Canada’s ranking is largely boosted by its ranking in educational attainment, where it places first together with 21 other countries. The global results show that Canada still has a long way to go in the other key areas of the index, especially in health and survival, where it ranked only at number 94. In political empowerment, Canada ranks 31st and 43rd in economic participation and opportunity 43rd.

Gender Pay Gap in Canada

The gender pay gap is a term used to describe the difference in average earnings based on gender. It is a widely used indicator of inequalities between genders, and in Canada, the pay gap exists at all professional levels across all industries.

People who face multiple barriers, including Indigenous women, racialized women, and women with disabilities, are more likely to experience larger pay gaps. The pay gap differs in different age groups, but findings by Statistics Canada show that the pay gap starts from a young age and continues into senior years.

What is the Pay Gap in Canada?

Despite improvements to ensure women and men earn equal pay for the same roles, the gender pay gap still exists. Women who work full-time earn 90 cents for every dollar that men earn. If we compare the wages of women and men in full- and part-time employment, women earn 89 cents for every dollar men make. On average, it takes women fifteen and a half months to earn what men make in twelve months.

According to data from the OECD, there is a 16.1% difference in the yearly median earnings between women and men in Canada. In the OECD rankings, Canada’s gender pay gap is the eighth worst.

Women With Children Experience a Larger Pay Gap

Since the 1960s, the number of women in Canadian workplaces has been steadily increasing. In 1976, for example, women represented 37.6% of the labour force compared to 47.4% in 2019. During the same period, the percentage of families on dual incomes increased from 39.2% to 58.8%.

However, women are still more likely than men to interrupt their careers and stay home while their children are young, and this has an impact on their income. Women aged 25-38 lost 4% of their earnings in the first five years after having a child. According to data from 2015, mothers with children under 18 earned 85 cents per dollar earned by fathers, while women without children made 90 cents per dollar earned by men without children.

Why is Ending the Gender Pay Gap Important?

Not only is ending the gender pay gap important from the equal rights and opportunities viewpoint, but it is also vital because it is one of the root causes behind gendered poverty. The pay gap affects women of all ages, starting with adolescents’ summer jobs, where the pay gap is close to $3 per hour. Female pensioners in Canada are also impacted by the pay gap, with women retiring on average with 20% smaller pensions than men.

The gender pay gap also has global implications for the country. For example, in the global rankings, Canada has slipped back from 40th place in 2021 to 43rd place in 2022 in economic participation and opportunity.

Other Key Gender Pay Gap Statistics

Racialized women have a far larger pay gap. Racialized women make, on average, only 59.3% of what white men earn. Women and people who are gender diverse and have a physical disability are more likely than women on average to be affected by pay gaps, with only 16% of people in this group reporting they are fairly paid compared to their peers.

Gender Inequality and Poverty in Canada

In total, 12% of the Canadian population is living in relative income poverty, and 33% are at risk of falling into poverty if they lose three months’ income. Women in Canada are more likely to be affected by poverty, with women making up 60% of Canadians who are struggling economically. Over 1.5 million women are living in poverty in Canada.

Why Are Women More Likely to Live in Poverty?

Women are more likely than men to be living in poverty or to be at risk of poverty than men in Canada because women are more likely to work in lower-income positions or part-time. In 2015, 75.8% of all part-time workers in Canada were women. According to data from Statistics Canada, in 2022, 10% of Canadian women lived on low incomes.

Women are also more likely to live in poverty because more of their time is taken up with unpaid work. On average, women in Canada spend 15% of their day on unpaid work, including care work and domestic tasks, while men spend only 10% of their time on similar tasks. The higher proportion of unpaid work impacts women’s earning power.

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Women in Canada

The global pandemic had a disproportionate impact on women and girls as well as gender-diverse people. The circumstances created by the pandemic intensified the inequalities that relate to gender but also to race culture, language, and economic status.

The effect the pandemic had on women’s participation in the workforce, career advancement, and earning potential were unprecedented and continue to unfold, with women’s participation in the labour force at the lowest level in three decades.

More Women Lost Their Jobs Than Men During the Pandemic in Canada

As of March 2020, around one million jobs were lost in Canada, and women accounted for 63% of jobs lost. The proportion of women was even higher in the 25-54 age group, where women accounted for 70% of all jobs lost.

According to a national poll from September 2020, one in three women in Canada considered leaving their jobs to manage childcare and domestic work better while schools and daycares were closed due to the pandemic.

Despite some gains in women’s employment during the summer and autumn of 2020, women’s employment was at the lowest level in twenty years. The employment rate for women in December 2020 equalled the rate from 2000.

The Most Affected Groups

Women who were single parents during the pandemic were more likely to experience job loss or have to reduce their working hours than women in two-parent families. 37.6% of single mothers experienced job losses or reduced their working hours compared to 25.7% from two-parent families.

Women who worked in hospitality and service industries were more likely to be impacted, and cutbacks continue to affect workers in these industries. Women who worked part-time or on minimum wage also faced a high likelihood of loss of work during the pandemic. 58% of women working on minimum wage or part-time lost hours compared to 1% of women earning more than $48 per hour.

Gender Inequality in Management and Leadership Roles

While women represent just over half the population of Canada, they are underrepresented in professional and leadership positions. This is reflected in Canada’s ranking on the global comparison, with Canada placing 31st in political empowerment among 146 countries.

However, having more women in leadership roles is crucial for advancing gender equality in Canada. Having more diverse role models in politics and across industries will benefit the next generation, not just women but Canadian society as a whole.

Women in Business

Data from Statistics Canada shows that women hold only 35.6% of management roles and 30.9% of senior management roles in Canada. Women of colour only hold 6.2% of management and leadership roles, while black women, Indigenous women, LGBTQ2S+ women, and women with disabilities represent less than 1% of people in leadership roles.

Within Canadian corporations, 18.3% of board member positions are held by women, and only 4% of the largest publicly traded companies in Canada have a woman CEO.

Women in Politics

Unfortunately, the picture of women in leading roles is no better in politics than it is in the world of business. In July 2021, only 29% of the House of Commons were women. While this is the highest percentage so far, it is still significantly lower than 50%, which would be a truer presentation of Canada’s population.

The positive news is that the number of women in the House of Commons has increased in each of the last four elections. However, at the current rate of a 7.6% increase in twelve years, it will take over thirty years to close the gender gap in Canadian politics.

In Canada, 15% of provincial premier positions are held by women, 18% of mayors are women, and women only 28% of Canadian councillors’ seats.


While progress has been made in addressing gender inequalities in Canada, there is still a lot of work to be done. Women in Canada are still earning less than men, and the difference is more significant for racialized and Indigenous women as well as for women with disabilities.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, 63% of all jobs lost were held by women, and the representation of women in the workforce fell to its lowest level since 2000. Women in Canada are more likely than men to work part-time or in low-income roles and interrupt their careers to care for their children.

While the number of women in leadership roles has risen, women are still seriously underrepresented in leadership positions both in politics and in the business sector, and this is reflected in Canada’s ranking in international comparisons on gender equality. While there is a lot of work still to be done on the whole, at least in education, Canada is an example of gender equality holding the joint first position with 21 other countries.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, women in Canada still earn less than men. On average, women working full-time earn 90 cents for every dollar earned by men.

The pandemic affected women disproportionately. 63% of the jobs lost in April 2020 were held by women.

In 2022, Canada ranked 25th in global gender equality comparison. While Canada does very well in education, ranking first with 21 other countries, it lags behind in other areas, particularly in health and survival, where it ranks only 94th among 146 countries.