A new report reveals that women in the Greater Toronto Area have lost substantial ground in the workplace and are now attempting to cope with insecure jobs and uncertain futures.
Working Women, Working Poor is a study done by Prabha Khosla for the Women and Work Research Group, which highlights the struggles of diverse working women in the GTA.
Forty-four women participated in the research; 27 participated in three focus discussions and 17 in key informant interviews.
Women at opposite ends of the age spectrum share the sentiment of feeling disposable. Older women expressed being squeezed out of the workplace because the labour market no longer values their skills or experiences.
Younger women expressed the experience of being in a never-ending cycle of temporary jobs, despite the number of years they spent in securing degrees.
According to Khosla, there are two major things happening to women in the GTA.
“On the one hand, women who are slightly older and have been working for many years have gotten laid off. Hardly any of them have been able to get comparable work since then.”
“At the same time, the younger women who have graduated from college or university are also not able to get work,” said Khosla.
Even if they are hired, the report notes that there is a noticeable gender wage gap. In Ontario, the gender wage gap is 28 per cent, which means for every $1.00 earned by a male worker, a female worker earns 72 cents.
In Ontario, more women than men are likely to be working for the minimum wage, and the majority of them are racialized and immigrant.
“We found that these students of the demographic profiles are women that are having the hardest time finding work that they are qualified for, have the education for or have studied for,” said Khosla.
“The only option that seems to be available for many different kinds of women from many different sectors is precarious work.”
Fair and equal opportunities
According to the report, employment standards should be used to narrow the wage disparities among workers in precarious work arrangements.
The report suggests that the community should continue to campaign for a $14 per hour minimum wage in Ontario. Unions and committees need to continue to be vigilant to ensure that women are paid a fair wage.