The University of Toronto ranked as having the widest salary gap of degree-granting institutions in Canada. Although women often have the same qualifications as their male counterparts, the salary gap between genders is apparent.
A recent study from Statistics Canada reported a $20,158 salary gap between male and female professors at the University of Toronto, in favour of males. The report, which was based on the 2008-2009 academic year, includes full-time teaching staff under a 12-month (or more) contract, and of all disciplines and levels in their careers, excluding medical and dental faculty.
University officials offer two explanations for the salary gap. Senior faculty—which earn more than junior faculty—are mainly men, because they were hired under the practices of 30 years ago when women were not earning PhDs. The survey also does not consider factors such as different disciplines, age, and market salary. Officials say that comparing the salaries of women and men who are of the same rank and the same academic discipline would not show a great difference. Also, U of T has a wider range of disciplines than most universities, which broadens the spectrum of higher-paid vs. lower-paid disciplines, further widening the gap.
Salaries tend to be higher in male-dominated disciplines, such as business, engineering, and law.
Disciplines that receive lower salaries, such as education, humanities, and social sciences, are more often occupied by women. These findings suggest that if a woman chooses the right discipline, she earns as much as or more than a man. However, it may also make us ask why the disciplines more often staffed by women are the same ones that are paid less.
Another explanation is that women work fewer hours than men, since they are more likely to be caregivers to their families, spend time with aging parents, and balance their work and social lives. This is a simple trade, less work for less pay. But if these additional responsibilities are unavoidable, perhaps they deserve compensation for not being able to work.
The good news is the historic salary gap has not remained static throughout the years and appears to be narrowing.
The numbers show that there is less of a gap than before. In 1991, women in their 20s earned 20% less than men and in 2001, earned about 18% less than men. Hopefully later studies will show even more improvement. The presence of women is steadily increasing in academia, regardless of outdated social norms and expectations. U of T also offers parental leave and child-care policies, and boasts a family care office, which makes it more convenient for women to work on campus.