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What is the Power Gap?

It’s been 70 years since Ontario became the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass pay equity legislation. Fifty years since governments began enacting laws that banned discrimination in hiring, firing and promotions on the basis of sex. Forty years since the federal government made it illegal for employers to fire a woman for becoming pregnant. Thirty years since women overtook men in university graduating classes. And it’s been 10 years since the wage gap budged in any significant way.

For women in the workplace, progress has stalled. By almost every metric, they continue to lag generations behind men.

Two and a half years ago, the Globe and Mail set about trying to understand why. What we found is that inequities run much deeper than compensation or a lack of female CEOs.

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There is a power gap in the modern work force.

In an unprecedented analysis of hundreds of public sector salary records, The Globe has found that women continue to be outnumbered, outranked and out-earned by men not just at the very top, but on the way to the top and in the middle.

There are more men serving as supervisors, managers, senior managers, directors, executive directors and vice-presidents. More men on executive teams and at the helm of institutions. More men in six-figure jobs. And when comparison was possible, The Globe found that in a majority of cases, men were earning more than their female counterparts — women who worked for the same company and at the same management rank.

A two-and-a-half year investigation by The Globe and Mail into the wage gap has revealed a bigger problem: The Power Gap between men and women at Canada’s public institutions. Investigative reporter Robyn Doolittle runs through some of the key takeaways of how and where men outnumber, outrank and out-earn women in Canada.

The Globe collected salary records from 244 entities in four key pillars that shape Canadians’ lives – 82 universities, 25 cities, seven provincial governments and 130 public corporations – and then married this information with gender-probability statistics (about 90 per cent of first names in Canada are associated with a particular gender at least 95 per cent of the time). The Globe’s analysis is the first of its kind and the most detailed picture available of where women stand in the Canadian workplace. (We targeted the public sector because this is the only workplace salary data available to scrutinize.)

Only high-earning public employees in provinces with legislation are subject to disclosure. Usually, the threshold is $100,000. In jurisdictions with a lower bar, The Globe only captured employees who earned six-figures. The federal government, the territories, and the provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have no sunshine laws. In Quebec, organizations are only required to release data for their most senior employees. The Globe’s dataset is connected to the 2017 and 2017/2018 fiscal years, depending on the respective entity’s disclosure practices. (Read more about our methodology.)

To capture a full picture of what’s happening in each workplace, The Globe assessed the data through multiple lenses: the overall number of men and women among six-figure earners; the gender divide at different salary bands; the number of women working in executive decision-making roles (the “power positions”); the gender divide at the very top; the divide between white women and women of colour; and the wage gap at each level. This framework was used to evaluate each individual entity, as well as each of the four pillars. Because Quebec – with the exception of the City of Montreal – only releases data for the most senior earners, these organizations could not be used in calculations that required the full work force. Quebec entities are included in “power position” and “top leader” findings. (Montreal agreed to release the first — but not last — names of its employees so we could complete the gender analysis.)

Although the results varied by entity, there was a clear big-picture trend. Men are still making more money than women, although the difference is typically small (low single digits). However there are dramatically more men in high-paying jobs. Of the 171 organizations that disclosed full workplace data, men outnumbered women at 84 per cent of them and out-earned women on average 68 per cent of the time. Among the power positions at those entities – the executive leadership team and president – men outnumbered women at 71 per cent of the entities. (And in 10 per cent of cases, the representation was equal.)

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Explore The Globe’s data

Click or tap on the pillar icons below to search your city, university or other public entity. Individual entity data is included on each of these pages.

The Power Gap overall

Men outnumbered and out-earned women in high-income jobs in every pillar. There were also more men on executive teams and at the helm of organizations. There were a handful of exceptions – institutions where women outnumbered men – but even in those entities, women struggled to rise. Of the 24 organizations that had more women earning six figures than men, only 11 had more women on their leadership teams. (In four cases, the split was even, and two had no executives to analyze.)

Overall representation of men vs. women

Men

Women

Publicly owned

corporations

76%

24%

65%

35%

Municipalities

Universities

61%

39%

Provincial

governments

61%

39%

Overall representation of men vs. women

Men

Women

Publicly owned

corporations

76%

24%

65%

35%

Municipalities

Universities

61%

39%

Provincial

governments

61%

39%

Overall representation of men vs. women

Men

Women

Publicly owned

corporations

76%

24%

65%

35%

Municipalities

Universities

61%

39%

Provincial

governments

61%

39%

How much women make for every

dollar men make

90¢

92¢

94¢

96¢

98¢

Equal

$1.02

Provincial

governments

Municipalities

Publicly owned

corporations

Universities

How much women make for every

dollar men make

90¢

92¢

94¢

96¢

98¢

Equal

$1.02

Provincial

governments

Municipalities

Publicly owned

corporations

Universities

How much women make for every dollar men make

90¢

92¢

94¢

96¢

98¢

Equal

$1.02

Provincial

governments

Municipalities

Publicly owned

corporations

Universities

Looking at leadership

That women are underrepresented among presidents and CEOs in the private sector is well known. That trend held true in the public sector. Of the 237 cities, corporations and universities in our dataset, 226 had a “top leader” on their salary disclosure. Of those, 166 were led by men. Of the six provincial governments that release detailed data, there were 136 deputy ministers, the top civilian position; of those, 80 were men. Among the organizations being run by women, only six were led by racialized women, and three deputy ministers were women of colour. (The Globe was unable to determine the racial identity of six top women leaders.) At the executive power-position level, women continued to be outnumbered among decision-makers.

Gender split among top leaders

(including CEOs, city managers, deputy ministers

and presidents)

Men

Women

Publicly owned

corporations

71%

29%

93%

7%

Municipalities

Universities

76%

24%

Provincial

governments

58%

42%

Gender split among top leaders

(including CEOs, city managers, deputy ministers

and presidents)

Men

Women

Publicly owned

corporations

71%

29%

93%

7%

Municipalities

Universities

76%

24%

Provincial

governments

58%

42%

Gender split among top leaders

(including CEOs, city managers, deputy ministers and presidents)

Men

Women

Publicly owned

corporations

71%

29%

93%

7%

Municipalities

Universities

76%

24%

Provincial

governments

58%

42%

Women and men in executive

‘power positions’

(including vice-presidents, commissioners,

associate deputy ministers and

executive directors)

Men

Women

Publicly owned

corporations

59%

41%

62%

38%

Municipalities

Universities

60%

40%

Provincial

governments

55%

45%

Women and men in executive ‘power positions’

(including vice-presidents, commissioners, associate

deputy ministers and executive directors)

Men

Women

Publicly owned

corporations

59%

41%

62%

38%

Municipalities

Universities

60%

40%

Provincial

governments

55%

45%

Women and men in executive ‘power positions’

(including vice-presidents, commissioners, associate

deputy ministers and executive directors)

Men

Women

Publicly owned

corporations

59%

41%

62%

38%

Municipalities

Universities

60%

40%

Provincial

governments

55%

45%

The top 1 percentile

In this highest echelon, the top 1 percentile of earners from each entity, men outnumbered women by more than three to one. Because names are not a reliable indicator of race, it was not possible to assess where women of colour are within each institution, but The Globe individually contacted women in the top 1 percentile to ask how they identify racially. In total, of the 289 women in this category, just 27 identified as women of colour. In 41 cases, we could not determine race. Put another way, of the 1,059 public sector employees who are among the top 1 percentile of earners at their respective organizations, 3 per cent are racialized women.

Women in the top 1 percentile

1,059

People within the top 1 percentile of earners

289

of them are women

We could not determine the background of 41 women

27

of those women are BIPOC

Women in the top 1 percentile

1,059

People within the top 1 percentile of earners

289

of them are women

We could not determine the background of 41 women.

27

of those women are BIPOC

Women in the top 1 percentile

1,059

People within the top 1 percentile of earners

289

of them are women

We could not determine the background of 41 women.

27

of those women are BIPOC

A leaky pipeline

When people talk about the glass ceiling, it usually refers to women breaking through to the C-suite or president’s office. But The Globe’s analysis has found that women seem to be topping out as mid-level managers. In truth, the ceiling metaphor isn’t a great one, because the numbers don’t show a hard barrier women can’t cross; it’s more of a leaky pipeline. In many workplaces – especially universities – the leak visibly accelerates a few rungs up from the bottom. What is clear is that by the highest salary band, women are dramatically outnumbered.

Percentage of women at different

salary bands

Provincial

governments

Municipalities

100

75

50

25

0

Publicly owned

corporations

Universities

100

75

50

25

0

Lower

salary

Higher

salary

Percentage of women at different salary bands

Provincial

governments

Municipalities

100

75

50

25

0

Publicly owned

corporations

Universities

100

75

50

25

0

Lower

salary

Higher

salary

Percentage of women at different salary bands

Provincial

governments

Publicly owned

corporations

Municipalities

Universities

100

75

50

25

0

Lower

salary

Higher

salary

To examine the distribution of women within each workplace, The Globe assessed every entity using salary bands. Organizations with 100 or more high-income employees were split into 10, and smaller entities were divided into five. In the highest salary band, women were outnumbered at least four to one in the cities of Winnipeg, Brampton, Ont., and Vaughan, Ont., as well as at 19 universities, including the University of Windsor, the University of Ottawa, the University of Alberta, Brock University, the University of Waterloo, Western University, the University of Toronto and several other, smaller schools.

Entities with the sharpest decline in

female representation

% who are women, by salary band

Ontario Tech

University

University of

Regina

Lower

salary

Higher

salary

Lower

salary

Higher

salary

100

75

50

25

0

Brandon

University

Lakehead

University

100

75

50

25

0

Mount Royal

University

Western

University

100

75

50

25

0

Queen’s

University

Brock

University

100

75

50

25

0

McMaster

University

Carleton

University

100

75

50

25

0

The University

of Winnipeg

University of

Ottawa

100

75

50

25

0

Entities with the sharpest decline in female

representation

% who are women, by salary band

Ontario Tech

University

University of

Regina

Lower

salary

Higher

salary

Lower

salary

Higher

salary

100

75

50

25

0

Brandon

University

Lakehead

University

100

75

50

25

0

Mount Royal

University

Western

University

100

75

50

25

0

Queen’s

University

Brock

University

100

75

50

25

0

McMaster

University

Carleton

University

100

75

50

25

0

The University

of Winnipeg

University of

Ottawa

100

75

50

25

0

Entities with the sharpest decline in female representation

% who are women, by salary band

Brandon

University

Lakehead

University

Ontario Tech

University

University of

Regina

100

75

50

25

0

Brock

University

Mount Royal

University

Western

University

Queen’s

University

100

75

50

25

0

The University

of Winnipeg

University of

Ottawa

McMaster

University

Carleton

University

100

75

50

25

0

Lower

salary

Higher

salary

Some organizations showed sharp declines in female representation between the first and last salary band. Other entities were male-dominated from the very beginning. This was especially true with power companies.

Entities with the lowest representation

of women at the highest salary band

% who are women, by salary band

Manitoba

Hydro

Ontario Power

Generation

Lower

salary

Higher

salary

Lower

salary

Higher

salary

100

75

50

25

0

City of

Winnipeg

Acadia

University

100

75

50

25

0

Sask. Power

Corp.

University of

Lethbridge

100

75

50

25

0

University of

Windsor

University of

Ottawa

100

75

50

25

0

St. Francis Xavier

University

City of

Brampton

100

75

50

25

0

University of

Alberta

Mount Royal

University

100

75

50

25

0

Entities with the lowest representation

of women at the highest salary band

% who are women, by salary band

Manitoba

Hydro

Ontario Power

Generation

Lower

salary

Higher

salary

Lower

salary

Higher

salary

100

75

50

25

0

City of

Winnipeg

Acadia

University

100

75

50

25

0

Sask. Power

Corp.

University of

Lethbridge

100

75

50

25

0

University of

Windsor

University of

Ottawa

100

75

50

25

0

St. Francis Xavier

University

City of

Brampton

100

75

50

25

0

University of

Alberta

Mount Royal

University

100

75

50

25

0

Entities with the lowest representation of women

at the highest salary band

% who are women, by salary band

Manitoba

Hydro

Ontario Power

Generation

City of

Winnipeg

Acadia

University

100

75

50

25

0

Sask. Power

Corp.

University of

Lethbridge

University of

Windsor

University of

Ottawa

100

75

50

25

0

St. Francis Xavier

University

University of

Alberta

City of

Brampton

Mount Royal

University

100

75

50

25

0

Lower

salary

Higher

salary

The Power Gap in management

Another way The Globe measured power within institutions was to examine individual job titles. Across all four pillars and within most individual entities, a number of positions associated with management roles routinely showed up: supervisor, manager, senior manager, director, executive director and vice-president. Although the results varied, once again the trend showed that women were outnumbered almost everywhere.

Proportion of men and women

in management roles

Men

Women

Provincial

governments

Municipalities

5

5

Vice-

presidents

Not common

in this pillar

50%

50%

297

217

22

16

Executive

directors

58%

42%

58%

42%

993

857

374

267

Directors

54%

46%

58%

42%

152

126

46

25

Senior

managers

55%

45%

65%

35%

975

959

934

757

Managers

50%

50%

55%

45%

171

44

591

236

Supervisors

80%

20%

71%

29%

Publicly owned

corporations

Universities

169

112

228

152

Vice

Presidents

60%

40%

60%

40%

102

126

47

29

Executive

directors

45%

55%

62%

38%

716

764

523

372

Directors

48%

52%

58%

42%

37

38

206

140

Senior

managers

49%

51%

60%

40%

265

196

774

503

Managers

57%

43%

61%

39%

Not common

in this pillar

Not common

in this pillar

Supervisors

Proportion of men and women

in management roles

Men

Women

Provincial

governments

Municipalities

5

5

Vice-

presidents

Not common

in this pillar

50%

50%

297

217

22

16

Executive

directors

58%

42%

58%

42%

993

857

374

267

Directors

54%

46%

58%

42%

152

126

46

25

Senior

managers

55%

45%

65%

35%

975

959

934

757

Managers

50%

50%

55%

45%

171

44

591

236

Supervisors

80%

20%

71%

29%

Publicly owned

corporations

Universities

169

112

228

152

Vice

President

60%

40%

60%

40%

102

126

47

29

Executive

directors

45%

55%

62%

38%

716

764

523

372

Directors

48%

52%

58%

42%

37

38

206

140

Senior

managers

49%

51%

60%

40%

265

196

774

503

Managers

57%

43%

61%

39%

Not common

in this pillar

Not common

in this pillar

Supervisors

Proportion of men and women in management roles

Men

Women

Provincial

governments

Publicly owned

corporations

Municipalities

Universities

5

5

228

152

169

112

Not common

in this pillar

Vice-

presidents

50%

50%

60%

40%

60%

40%

22

16

297

217

47

29

102

126

Executive

directors

58%

42%

58%

42%

62%

38%

45%

55%

374

267

993

857

523

372

716

764

Directors

58%

42%

54%

46%

58%

42%

48%

52%

46

25

152

126

206

140

37

38

Senior

managers

65%

35%

55%

45%

60%

40%

49%

51%

934

757

975

959

774

503

265

196

Managers

55%

45%

50%

50%

61%

39%

57%

43%

591

236

171

44

Not common

in this pillar

Not common

in this pillar

Supervisors

71%

29%

80%

20%

The gender divide in Quebec

The Globe collected data from 74 entities in Quebec: 49 public corporations, five cities, 19 universities and the provincial government. However, only the City of Montreal agreed to provide the first name and salary of all six-figure earners. Every other organization only disclosed senior management, as the province’s legislation allows. Sometimes, as was the case with most corporations, this was interpreted as only one or two people. In other cases, like the municipal governments, each list had a few dozen. Because there was no consistency around disclosure, each organization is best assessed on its own. (You can find detailed Quebec entity data in the “power position” section at the bottom of each of the pillar pages.) What can be said is that of the 73 entities that provided limited data, men outnumbered women among the senior ranks two-thirds of the time, and 67 per cent had a man in the top job. But of significant note, the wage gap between men and women executives was lower than the average outside of Quebec.

The Globe reached out to every entity in our database that provided detailed information for comment. You can read their responses here. A few dozen have not responded. The Globe will continue to update this dataset as new information arises.

TIPS: Over the next year, The Globe and Mail will continue to explore the extent of the power gap in workplaces across Canada as well as the causes and solutions. If you have a story to tell, you can reach out to rdoolittle@globeandmail.com

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Visit our data pages for in-depth analysis on each pillar, including breakdowns by entity, and see how they compare.

With reporting and research from Andrew Saikali, Stephanie Chambers, Tavia Grant, Denise Balkissoon and Tu Thanh Ha.

ADDITIONAL CREDITS

  • Story editing: Dawn Calleja
  • Design and art direction: Ming Wong
  • Web design and development: Christopher Manza
  • Illustration and graphics: Murat Yükselir
  • Photo editing: Theresa Suzuki
  • Data science consulting and verification: Lola Abduvaitova
  • Data science consulting: Shengqing Wu
  • Data verification: Tom Cardoso
  • Michael Pereira also contributed to the project

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