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More women are in the workforce than ever before

  • There has been a dramatic increase in the number of women participating in the paid workforce in the past number of decades. In 2004, 58% of all women aged 15 and over were in the paid workforce, up from 42%in 1976.
  • A high number of women in their child-rearing years are in the workforce: 77% of women aged 25-44 were in the paid workforce in 2004.
  • In 2004, 70% of women whose youngest child was aged three to five were in the workforce, up from 37% in 1976.
  • Recently there has been a significant rise in the employment rate of older women. Between 1995-2002 the employment rate of women aged 55-59 rose from 44% to 51% and that of women aged 60-64 rose from 22% to 29%.
  • The number of women in unions has been increasing. In 2004, 32% of female workers belonged to a union, double the figure in 1966 when just 16% of women workers were unionized. Men’s unionization rates have been dropping: from just over 40% in the late 1960s to 32% in 2004.
  • The unemployment rate for women of colour is about 10%, while for all women it is approximately 7%.

Women are more likely to work part-time

  • In 2004, women accounted for 7 out of every 10 part-time workers.
  • Women are more likely to work part-time because of childcare or family responsibilities. In 2004, 18% of employed women said they worked part-time because of childcare or other personal responsibilities, compared with only 2% of males employed part-time.
  • Twenty-six per cent of all women working part-time in 2004 said they did so because they could not find full-time employment.

Women’s incomes - the pay gap continues!

  • In 2003, the average annual income of women was $24,400, or 62% of what men earned.
  • Women working full-time, full-year earned on average $36,500 in 2003, or 71% of what men working full-time, full-year earned ($51,700).
  • Women of colour are better educated on average than other Canadian women, yet women of colour make almost 14% less than all women workers.
  • There are 67% more women than men in the lowest income group (under $30,000 per year). There are 337% (!) more men than women in the highest income group (over $100,000). In the mid to high income group ($30,000 - $100,000) there are 67% more men than women.



  1. Statistics Canada, Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report, March 2006, cat. # 89-503-XIE.
  2. Cheung Leslie, Canadian Labour Congress, Racial Status and Employment Outcome, Research Pager #34, October 2005.
  3. Policy Action Research, Status of Women Action Group, March 2006.
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