Summer gigs: Canadian girls typically earn less than boys, survey suggests

Written by on May 15, 2019

TORONTO — Canadian girls and boys are about equally as likely to have summer jobs but young females on average earn roughly 30 per cent less than their male counterparts, a recent survey suggests.

In line with the adult workforce, the poll for Girl Guides of Canada also finds girls clustered in lower-paid “pink ghetto” jobs — for example babysitting, compared with yard work.

The Ipsos survey asked 1,203 Canadians aged 12 to 18 via an online poll about their summer work in 2018. The results are published in a report by Girl Guides called “Girls on the job: Realities in Canada.”

About 35 per cent of girls surveyed said they had a full- or part-time summer job — and almost as many worked in an informal setting for family, friends, or neighbours.

When it came to full-time summer gigs, such as working in a store or office, girls surveyed reported earning about $3 an hour less than boys. The difference more than doubled to $6.31 when it came to full-time work in informal settings such as working for family, friends or neighbours.

“It looks like the gender wage gap doesn’t just affect adult women,” the report states. “It affects girls as young as age 12.”

Statistics Canada data indicate women aged 15 and older earn on average roughly 87 cents for every dollar men earn. The gap widens further for women of colour. The Ipsos survey suggests the wage gap is felt early.

“Girls and boys have different experiences on the job and how they’re paid,” the report states.

While about 11 per cent of boys surveyed reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment or assault during their 2018 summer work, females appeared to be worse off. About 13 per cent of girls polled said they experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault at work, rising to 19 per cent among older teens and 23 per cent for girls from lower-income families.

“This fact shows how important it is to consider that girls from marginalized communities are often more vulnerable to gender-based violence,” the report states. “For older girls, while they may be seen as near-adults, they’re still young and many are navigating the workforce and new social dynamics for the first time.”

On the more positive side, about 45 per cent of girls surveyed said they were very satisfied with their pay, more than half said they gained skills to help in a future career, and 17 per cent said they met a mentor at work.

According to the polling industry’s generally accepted standards, online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

Jill Zelmanovits, CEO of Girl Guides of Canada, said the survey was the first study of its kind in Canada. What’s not clear is why the gender disparity it points to exists at such a young age, she said in an interview on Wednesday.

“What we do know is that it does mirror what we see in the work force for women later,” Zelmanovits said. “(It) does lead one to possibly consider that it is a conditioning that then carries through for girls into their careers as women.”

The report offers advice for employers: Scrutinize hiring practices to avoid bias, pay fairly and ensure the workplace is free of sexual harassment. Parents are urged to talk daughters about money and pay, encourage their girls to speak up at work, and support non-traditional choices.

It also urges girls to see their time as a valuable resource, to get comfortable talking about pay, and to know they have a right to feel safe at work.

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press


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