TORONTO, Sept. 5 /CNW/ - For the first time in history, including during
both of the World Wars, employed women in Canada now outnumber employed men,
according to a CAW analysis of the annual unionization study by Statistics
Canada released in time for Labour Day.
"This is an important milestone that leaves little doubt that women's
position in the labour market has dramatically changed since women first
entered the workforce en masse," said Julie White, CAW Director of Women's
Programs. "Across the country, women are making a critical contribution to the
economy, their families and their communities."
An average 7.123 million women and 6.963 million men were employed during
the first half of 2009 (January to June, from Statistics Canada Labour Force
Surveys, Table 1 of the Unionization study, including salaried and waged
workers, excluding self-employed). The larger numbers of women hold true for
both the "under 25 years" and "25 years and over" age cohorts. The study does
not look at labour force participation rates which would include all Canadians
who are actively looking for employment.
Even during the Second World War, when large numbers of men were on
military leave and masses of women entered into paid employment, there were
still significantly more men than women employed in the civilian labour force.
The Statistics Canada study also shows that the number of unionized women
exceeds the number of unionized men, as has been the case since 2006.
There are comparatively more employed women in large part because so many
men have lost their jobs during this economic crisis, particularly in the
manufacturing and primary resource sectors. These men are now unemployed or
forced into early retirement or self-employment. Without an industrial
strategy for Canada, it is unclear how this employment will be recovered to
any significant degree.
"This segregation of the labour force by gender has become increasingly
significant with changes in the underlying structure of the Canadian economy,"
said economist Marjorie Cohen.
"Since the first free-trade agreement with the US, and subsequently with
NAFTA, the Canadian economy relies more heavily on exports, now at about 36%
of GDP. Males dominate all of the export industries, and it these industries
in the resource and manufacturing sectors that have been hardest hit by the
economic crisis, resulting in a high level of male unemployment.
The most dramatic drop in women's employment in manufacturing occurred as
a result of the FTA and NAFTA, so that few women work in this sector now,"
said Cohen, who is also a professor in Department of Political Science and
Chair of Women's Studies Department at Simon Fraser University in British
The relative increase in women's employment is also explained by gender
ghettos. Women's employment is concentrated in jobs like sales, clerical work,
health care, education, hospitality and social services where much of the job
growth has been happening.
"The jobs performed by women are also some of the lowest paid jobs in the
labour market, often with minimal employment benefits and pensions, plagued by
part-time work, erratic schedules and temporary contracts," said White.
"If our economic recovery assumes a reliance on such jobs and if social
supports like a national child care program remain a distant promise, then
women's lot cannot be said to have really improved greatly nor will it improve
in the future."
For more information, please contact CAW Communications Director Shannon
Devine (cell) 416-302-1699 or CAW Director of Women's Programs Julie White
(cell) 519-860-7015. CAW's summary of the Unionization study can be found at
For further information:
For further information: CAW Communications Director, Shannon Devine,
(cell) (416) 302-1699; CAW Director of Women's Programs, Julie White, (cell)
(519) 860-7015 CAW's summary of the Unionization study can be found at