There is a yawning chasm in perceptions of the gender pay gap between men and women in Canada, but a majority of both genders agree that pay equality should be enshrined in law, a new survey has found.
It also found that, among women, political leanings make a big difference in perceptions of pay equity.
In a poll of 1,501 employed Canadians, the Angus Reid Institute found that eight in 10 women (79 per cent) say the gender pay gap is a “serious issue” in Canada, but barely more than half — 51 per cent — of men agree.
There were notable gaps in other related questions.
“Across all age groups, male workers are at least twice as likely as their female peers to say that any gap in pay is based on the decisions that women make, rather than discrimination,” Angus Reid said in a report.
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Interestingly, younger men are more likely than older ones to believe the pay gap is the result of women’s own choices. Forty-seven per cent of employed men aged 18 to 34 feel this way, compared to 33 per cent of men aged 55 and over. Among women, 76 or 77 per cent in all age groups disagreed.
“These types of differences largely come down to the fact that one gender may be more aware of, alive to, or affected by the issue,” Angus Reid executive director Shachi Kurl said in an email to HuffPost Canada.
She noted that other studies have shown similar gender differences, on issues such as the #metoo movement and women in politics.
Among women, there’s a stark difference in perceptions of the gender gap based on political leanings. While only 16 or 17 per cent of women in any age group say that the gender gap is the result of women’s decisions, a full third of women who identify with the Progressive Conservatives agreed with that.
Fewer than 10 per cent of women who identify with the Liberals or the NDP agree.
Men and women’s views are more aligned when it comes to legislation on the gender gap, with a majority of both — 82 per cent of women and 58 per cent of men — supporting a law that would require businesses with more than 25 employees to obtain equal pay certification.
The survey found that 21 per cent of women and 13 per cent of men see a pay gap in their own workplace.
“Canadians see this as a broader issue beyond their own take home pay,” Kurl said.
“They may not be personally affected (or not realize they are personally affected), but it represents a greater issue of fairness and parity, which you don’t have to be personally impacted by to carry a belief in.”