Canada’s Summer Job Wage Gap: Boys In Informal Jobs Get Paid Nearly Twice What Girls Get

Canadian girls with summer jobs are getting a head start … on getting paid less than their male counterparts.

A new survey, carried out for Girl Guides of Canada, finds that girls aged 12 to 18 earn about $3 less per hour in full-time summer jobs than their male counterparts — $15.26 per hour for girls, on average, versus $18.01 for boys.

In informal work settings, such as being hired by friends or family, the gender gap is much larger, the survey found. At $8.67 per hour, girls make little more than half the $14.98 per hour average earned by boys.

Polling firm Ipsos carried out the research through an online survey of 1,203 residents of Canada aged 12 to 18.

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The results are “a wake-up call to parents,” said Jill Zelmanovits, CEO of Girl Guides of Canada.

“It made us wonder whether the patterns that we’ve identified in girls are then leading to later career choices,” she said, “because they do seem to be mirrored in later life.”

Watch: How Canada’s housing market is impacting jobs. Story continues below.

The survey found girls are over-represented in lower-paying summer jobs, particularly those related to caregiving, such as babysitting and caring for the elderly. Twenty-eight per cent of girls reported having caregiving summer jobs, compared to 17 per cent of boys.

Boys were over-represented in maintenance, gardening and groundskeeping jobs (23 per cent for boys, versus 9 per cent for girls) and in construction and manufacturing (9 per cent of boys, versus 3 per cent of girls).

“It did make us wonder whether or not girls were freely choosing these types of jobs,” Zelmanovits said in an interview with HuffPost Canada.

The fact that girls employed by friends and relatives have a larger pay gap than those in the formal workforce raises questions about how we value tasks traditionally seen as “women’s work,” Zelmanovits suggested.

“Are girls being influenced to choose work that also happens to be less valued, or are we valuing boys’ time and work more?” she asked in an interview with HuffPost Canada.

There may be “societal pressures” or “messaging” that’s pushing girls towards certain roles, Zelmanovits said, and she wondered “whether employers are unintentionally, possibly shutting girls out, for instance by where they are advertising. We just don’t know that.”

Harassment and assault

The survey also found summer jobs pose a risk of sexual harassment and assault, with 13 per cent of girls and 11 per cent of boys reporting at least one incident during their summer job in 2018.

Among girls from low-income households those earning $40,000 or less 23 per cent reported sexual harassment or abuse on the job.

The Girl Guides report urges employers to take a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment, “and consider how jokes or nicknames might feel particularly harmful or uncomfortable to someone in their first job.”

The report also urges employers to “consider how your hiring practices might unintentionally shut girls out — especially those who come from marginalized communities.”

Parents should talk to their daughters about the pay gap, and “encourage her to speak up and advocate for herself with employers,” the report advised.

“People think we’ve got this girl-boy thing sorted out, (that) even if there’s inequality, boys and girls have a fair shot at things,” Zelmanovits said. “But the more we hear from this age bracket, the more we realize we have to start having these conversations early.”

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