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GENDER INEQUALITY AND PRECARIOUS WORK: EXPLORING THE IMPACT OF UNIONS THROUGH THE GENDER AND WORK DATABASE

Prepared by Senior Economist Andrew Jackson

October 2004


 

Introduction

The purpose of this paper is to explore the impacts of unions on the pay of women and on pay inequality between women and men through the Gender and Work Database (GWD). The paper is highly empirical, and tries to use the Database, mainly derived from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey, to explore and illustrate how unions shape the structure of wages as initially shaped by the occupational and sectoral distribution (or, better, segregation) of women and men. While the detail is hopefully of interest, the major findings are hardly novel: women in the private services sector in particular are at high risk of low pay, but enjoy little protection from union coverage which is concentrated among private sector men and public sector women. The cause of gender equality and decent work for women would be well-served if union strength could be increased among women in precarious private services jobs.

The purpose of this paper is to explore the impacts of unions on the pay of women and on pay inequality between women and men through the Gender and Work Database (GWD). The paper is highly empirical, and tries to use the Database, mainly derived from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey, to explore and illustrate how unions shape the structure of wages as initially shaped by the occupational and sectoral distribution (or, better, segregation) of women and men. While the detail is hopefully of interest, the major findings are hardly novel: women in the private services sector in particular are at high risk of low pay, but enjoy little protection from union coverage which is concentrated among private sector men and public sector women. The cause of gender equality and decent work for women would be well-served if union strength could be increased among women in precarious private services jobs.

The purpose of this paper is to explore the impacts of unions on the pay of women and on pay inequality between women and men through the Gender and Work Database (GWD). The paper is highly empirical, and tries to use the Database, mainly derived from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey, to explore and illustrate how unions shape the structure of wages as initially shaped by the occupational and sectoral distribution (or, better, segregation) of women and men. While the detail is hopefully of interest, the major findings are hardly novel: women in the private services sector in particular are at high risk of low pay, but enjoy little protection from union coverage which is concentrated among private sector men and public sector women. The cause of gender equality and decent work for women would be well-served if union strength could be increased among women in precarious private services jobs.

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