Glass ceiling still in place for British Columbia public sector employees

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on the perspective), there is no equivalent federal ‘sunshine list’ on all public sector salaries.


However, we do have data on federal Deputy and Assistant Deputy Ministers (for women, 2016 baseline 37.6 percent women and 4.7 percent visible minorities for deputies, 40.8 and 7.2 percent for ADMs). DM appointments by the current government are close to gender parity at 46.9 percent women.

My analysis of GiC appointments showed less representation of women and visible minorities, and a similar gap to British Columbia between senior and junior appointments for crown corporations and administrative tribunals:

GiC Baseline 2016.014

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have introduced a gender-balanced cabinet “because it’s 2015,” but that equality does not extend to public servants in B.C., where the vast majority of the highest-paid employees are men.

An analysis of The Sun’s exclusive public sector salary database reveals that of the 200 highest-paid public employees in B.C., during 2014 or the 2014-15 fiscal year, 70 per cent were men and 30 per cent were women. That increases to 77 per cent male when the field is narrowed to the top 100 (By contrast, 94 of the 100 highest-paid corporate executives in 2015 were men, according to Business in Vancouver.)

“There’s an old saying: the higher, the fewer, with respect to women,” said Barbara Arneil, head of the University of B.C.’s political science department. “We have what I think are structural, systemic reasons why women are not reaching the top of their profession, whether that is in the university, whether that’s in government, whether that’s in the private sector. And we’re wasting very good resources.”

Search The Sun’s exclusive public sector salary database.

The Sun analyzed the top 200 public-sector earners in this year’s database, which contains salary information for nearly 77,000 employees, and the top 50 earners in six of the seven sectors: B.C. government, Crown corporations, health authorities, local government, school districts, and colleges and universities. The Sun did not include municipal police in this analysis because forces generally withhold many names to protect undercover officers. The Sun relied on first names for this gender analysis, checking Internet profiles in cases where only a first initial was provided or the name was ambiguous.

The gender divide is most pronounced at colleges and universities, where men represented 41 of the top 50 earners, or 82 per cent, in the 2014-15 fiscal year. But because the University of B.C. accounts for 45 of the top 50 highest-paid employees in the sector in the province, these findings really only reflect that institution. At the University of Victoria, for example, five of the 10 highest-paid employees are women.

Pay equity is an issue UBC takes seriously, university spokeswoman Susan Danard said in an emailed statement.

“Compensation is affected by several factors, including the depth of experience and accomplishment that a faculty or staff member brings with them when they are first hired, and the length of employment with UBC, with people paid more as they progress in their careers,” she said. Faculty and area of specialization are also factors that affect pay equity, she said, noting specialists and top doctors in the faculty of medicine are often the highest paid given the demands and complexity of their jobs.

Source: Glass ceiling still in place for public sector employees | Vancouver Sun

Daphne Bramham picks up on issue:

Canada’s failure is in providing women the opportunities to fully participate in the economy. Not only does Canada lag the Nordic countries, it trails countries like the United States, Namibia, Mongolia, Belarus, Thailand and Burundi.

It’s because women don’t have equal opportunities, Canada’s overall gender ranking dropped to 30th in 2015, down 11 places from 2014.

Among the more troubling findings in the Sun’s gender analysis of B.C. public-sector wages is that the 25 universities and colleges have the fewest women in top-paid positions — only nine among the top 50. Of those, five work at the University of British Columbia.

The excuses/reasons are the usual ones. Prime career-building years coincide with the prime reproductive years and Canadian mothers continue to bear the largest share of the caregiving for both children and aging parents.

Even though 58 per cent of these institutions’ graduates are women, missing are the supports for those young women to succeed in academe. It’s all the more disappointing because post-secondary institutions are supposed to be places of innovation and change, not laggards.

What’s not surprising is that the health services authorities account for the most women on the top-earners’ list with 59; 35 of whom are at the Provincial Health Services Authority.

For more than a decade, the majority of medical school graduates have been women. Among the professionals in the B.C. government, women account for nearly 90 per cent of the nurses and nutritionists and three-quarters of the social workers and counsellors.

But that may be change for the worse because catching up wage-wise isn’t as simple as more women working in traditionally male jobs. When women do that, the pay scale drops. That’s what sociologist Paula England at New York University concluded after analyzing U.S. census data from 1950 to 2000.

When biologists went from being predominately men to women, England found that wages fell 18 percentage points (even accounting for changed value of the dollar over time). When workers in parks and camps went from mostly men to mostly women, the median hourly wages dropped 57 percentage points.

It’s because when women do the work, England told the New York Times, “It just doesn’t look like it’s as important to the bottom line or requires as much skill.”

Daphne Bramham: Few women in B.C. public sector’s top ranks, …

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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