General / Social issues

Mind the gender gap!

Canada used to pride itself in being number one in gender equality. This has, however, dramatically changed and by 2016, Canada fell down to the 35th place. In average, a Canadian woman makes only 74 cents for every dollar a man makes. Recently, the disproportion of women in low-wage jobs has been named as a possible reason.

Data from the Government of Ontario, however, shows that even in high earning positions, and when women and men with similarly high positions are compared, men earn significantly more than women.

The data we used for this article are from the public sector salary disclosure for Ontario (Link). It includes information on all public sector employees who were paid $100,000 or more in 2016. On the website, names, salaries and taxable benefits, the employment sector, employer and job titles are published. To investigate the gender gap, we prepared a list of English first names and their corresponding gender. People with names that could be used for both genders were excluded. A total of 39’523 female and 59’550 male salaries were available for the current analysis.


The proportion of women in the Ontario Government with salaries above $100’000 is 40%. If only salaries above $200’000 are considered, the proportion of women is even smaller (30%).

The top 10 earners in the public sector of Ontario have salaries including taxable benefits between 720’000$ and 1’170’000$. Their job titles are presidents and CEOs, and they work for the Ontario Pension Board, several hospitals, the Ontario Power Generation and the University of Toronto. Only 2 of these 10 top earners are women.

A simple statistical model showed that the expected salary for a man is more than 5000$ higher than for a woman.  In this model, gender was found to be highly significant and predictive for salary. A similar analysis shows that a man is 60% more likely to earn more than 200’000$ per year than a woman. Compared to other sectors, the chance of earning more than 200’000$ is further increased for people who work at Crown Agencies, the Government of Ontario, Hospitals and Boards of Public Health – on the other hand, working for a School Board reduces the chance to earn that much.

The gender gap does not only exist because more women than men work in part-time or low-paid jobs, but is a phenomenon that persists through to the highly educated and well-positioned women in Canada. The datajournalist hopes also that the Government of Ontario, in its attempt to address gender inequality issues, will publish the gender of employees along with their salaries in their next edition of the public sector salary disclosure.



Data sources:

Front page picture

Data view and download

Background info

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