Does pay transparency close the gender wage gap?

Release date: March 6, 2020
Infographic: Does pay transparency close the gender wage gap?
Description: Does pay transparency close the gender wage gap?

Does pay transparency close the gender wage gap?

Women earn less than men, on average, in the Canadian labour market. The gender pay gap may persist, in part because it is hidden.

By examining the introduction of public-sector salary disclosure laws across provinces on faculty salaries at universities, pay transparency is found to reduce the gap between men's and women's earnings.

The gender pay gap in Canadian universities, 1981 to 2017

The gender pay gap among faculty at Canadian universities has been closing gradually over time, especially around 1996 when the first salary disclosure laws were introduced in several provinces.


The gender pay gap in Canadian universities, 1981 to 2017
Table summary
This table displays the results of The gender pay gap in Canadian universities. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Gender Pay Gap (Percent) (appearing as column headers).
Year Gender Pay Gap (Percent)
1981 -9.6
1982 -9.5
1983 -9.1
1984 -9.1
1985 -8.8
1986 -8.8
1987 -8.8
1988 -8.7
1989 -8.8
1990 -8.5
1991 -8.0
1992 -8.1
1993 -7.9
1994 -8.0
1995 -8.0
1996 -7.3
1997 -7.0
1998 -6.6
1999 -6.2
2000 -5.9
2001 -6.0
2002 -6.0
2003 -5.6
2004 -5.7
2005 -5.2
2006 -5.0
2007 -4.8
2008 -4.5
2009 -4.1
2010 -3.8
2011 -3.7
2012 -3.5
2013 -3.4
2014 -3.3
2015 -3.1
2016 -2.9
2017 -2.8

Pay transparency helps reduce the gender pay gap

University departments where some faculty members’ salaries were disclosed saw a 30% reduction in the gender pay gap relative to departments where no salaries were disclosed.

Collective bargaining matters

Reduction in the gender pay gap when salary disclosure laws were introduced:

  • Among unionized faculty: 35%
  • Among non-unionized faculty: Approx. 0%

Source: Baker, M., Y. Halberstam, K. Kroft, A. Mas, and D. Messacar. Pay transparency and the gender gap. Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series, no. 430. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11F0019M. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2019.

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