Women earn less than men in many different parts of the world.  The pay gap between men and women has been noted for many years now, and in Canada it is no different. It is worse in fact considering that the pay gap is greater between men and women of differing ethnicities, such as immigrants and those are considered to be less educated. The pay gap between men and women must be bridged to reach gender equality.

In the peer-reviewed article, “Heterogeneity in the Gender Wage Gap in Canada,” the authors delve into the issue of the ever-present wage gap that is currently afflicting Canada.  This gap has been in effect for many years and is typically seen as an unfair advantage given to over to male workers that make more on average than women that share the same educational background and work experience. It also highlights the fact that women are often granted jobs that pay less and offer fewer hours. The three sociological perspectives that are commonly attributed to many different aspects of life are seen within this article and also easy to note in the literature provided.

Symbolic Perspective

Symbolic interactionism is the use of symbols and face to face interactions that take place

in society. Using the example of the pay gap between men and women in Canada it is easy to see

how the deficit between the genders can be viewed from more than one sociological perspective.

However, as a symbolic interaction the interactions between men and women could include the

fact that Canadian women earn around $0.82 for every $1 that men earn (Antonie, Plesca, &

Tang, 2016).  This increased deficit is slightly better than the average pay gap in the United

States, but still amounts to a significant gap between men and women when it comes to equal


Worse yet is the fact that the trend is not growing any better as in 2016 the pay gap was still double that of the global average. The symbolism is hard to miss considering that women are responsible for a great deal of spending within Canada’s economy but very little in the way of decision-making. They are being held as the consummate consumers without being given the chance to show that they too can help stimulate the very same economy they pay into (Olfert, 2016). Despite the important role that women hold within the Canadian economy they are still shown little if any real chance to present their ideas and innovations to an economy that is almost entirely male-driven.

Another manner of symbolism is that women are often kept from many different leadership positions where their voice might make a difference. Instead of being allowed to become corporate leaders and influential characters that can bring change to the system, women are encouraged to become part-time employees. They are often offered positions that are important but not influential enough to affect policy.  In this manner they are shown that they are good enough to work, but not quite ready to accept the mantle of leadership.

Conflict Theory

It can also be argued that conflict theory is what drives the current pay gap within

Canada. Conflict theory has to do with the competition for resources, and also how the strong, or

rich, control the weak or poor. In this case women are viewed as the weak and uneducated,

despite the fact that many women have reached the same level as their male counterparts

throughout the years. Despite this glaring fact women are still woefully underrepresented and

greatly underpaid for their efforts, while men can demand higher salaries and expect to advance

at a reasonable if not accelerated level within any place of employment(Macionis, Jansson, &

Benoit, 2012).  On average, men will earn more than women in Canada regardless of their skill level (Adsera & Ferrer, 2016).

In terms of education men and women are seen to engage in the same courses, the same programs, and graduate at roughly the same rates.  However, men still tend to receive more pay for the same jobs than women.  This disparity has continued for many years in spite of the ongoing public outcry that women deserve equal pay for equal work. The vast difference in pay has been reasoned and explained more than once throughout the years since it was first brought to attention of the general public. At this time however no explanation has been forthcoming that can adequately explain the reason behind the wage gap, nor why it persists.

Functionalist Perspective

There are many theories that exist that are used to explain the gap, though few if any have ever managed to devise a way to explain how it can be remedied. At this point the unacceptable practice has been performed from a functionalist perspective. This means that since each member of society is interdependent upon the function of society as a whole, the practice continues as an acceptable compromise for the time being. In other words there is no real solution to the problem, so the country and its people must continue to contribute to the economy in the manner that is deemed as most acceptable.

This also strengthens the position of the other two sociological perspectives as the

conflict theory is easily seen with the continuation of such an issue.  The aforementioned practice

of keeping women from leadership roles is also strengthened by this perspective, as too often it is

seen, or at least described as being what is best to keep society functioning as a whole.  Keeping

women in menial or administrative roles where they can create change with slow and determined

progress is no longer a viable solution, as many women have shown great determination in

making drastic changes within their government. What has worked in the past is not working in

the current era, and many have conceded that it is time for a change. However, the path towards equality is still met with a decidedly stubborn roadblock as men continue to dominate the corporate sector and continue to make policies that do not always favor women.


            The plight of women in the Canadian workforce is an ongoing problem that needs to be addressed post haste. Despite any advances in education and policy the average woman in Canada is still seen more as a consumer than an innovator when it comes to business. The mere fact that this has been allowed for so long is enough to convince most people that a patriarchal society is not the ideal model to display when seeking to run a society. While a completely matriarchal society might not be the answer, the issue of equality is a concern that must be addressed if it is to be practiced to the greatest degree.

At the current moment the disparity between the wages earned by men and women cannot be adequately explained. There are few if any real discrepancies between the job experiences and hours worked when it comes to men and women (Evans, 2016). The work that they are hired to do should not require a difference in pay. The only issue that could be said to have been touched upon at this point comes when speaking women that have given birth and female immigrants that are not as educated or experienced as men.

From a sociological perspective it would seem that men are simply favored as the

dominant gender in Canada. This of course influences the conflict theory as well as symbolism,

which leading to functionalism as a necessary evil so to speak. In order to bridge the wage gap

women must be given more of a chance to show that they can influence their country. Only by

granting women true equality will Canada be able to eliminate such a disparity.


Adsera, A. & Ferrer, A. (2016). Occupational skills and labour market progression of married

immigrant women in Canada. Labour Economics, 39, 88-98.

Antonie, L., Plesca, M., & Tang, J. (2016).  Heterogeneity in the Gender Wage Gap in Canada.

Department of Economics and Finance. Retrieved from

Evans, P. (2016). Women’s wage gap getting wider in Canada, new report indicates. CBC News.

Retrieved from

Macionis, J.J., Jansson, S.M., & Benoit, C.M. (2012). Society: The Basics, Fifth Canadian

Edition. New York: Pearson.

Olfert, M.R. (2016). Regional Inequality and Decentralized Governance:  Canada’s Provinces.

The Review of Regional Studies, 46(3), 201-222.


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