Minister of the Status of Women talks at Ryerson about wage gap

Women still earn 74 cents on the male dollar in Canada, and according to Ontario’s Minister of the Status of Women, Indira Naidoo-Harris, that’s “not acceptable.”

“It’s troubling in this day and age that we still need to bring attention to the gender wage gap,” said Naidoo-Harris. “Bottom line, women’s work is still greatly undervalued; the gap persists [and] it must be closed.”

Naidoo-Harris was at Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management on March 31 to speak at Ontario’s Next Steps Towards Women’s Economic Empowerment conference.

Ontario’s first Minister of the Status of Women. (Courtesy Indira Naidoo-Harris)

The goal of the conference was to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Ontario’s Pay Equity Act, as well as call for activism to further women’s economic empowerment.

“It’s a time to celebrate how far we’ve come, but it’s also a time to think about how far we still have to go.”

Naidoo-Harris is Ontario’s first Minister of the Status of Women. Premier Kathleen Wynne appointed her in January, at the same time that the government created a stand-alone ministry for women to build gender equality across Ontario.

Naidoo-Harris said the ministry’s goal is to have women make up at least 40 per cent of all appointments to every provincial board and agency in Ontario by 2019.

“The challenge of economic empowerment is real, it’s a serious problem,” said Naidoo-Harris. “Gender equality is something our government believes in very strongly and we are taking important steps to strengthen the representation of women in leadership roles.”

Women represent 51 per cent of Ryerson’s staff and faculty and 54 per cent of its student population, yet this ratio isn’t necessarily seen at other universities.

Naidoo-Harris said it especially isn’t seen in Ontario’s business sector and that she hopes the new ministry will change that. She also acknowledges, however, that there is still some way to go before further change is reached.

“We are in 2017 and, let’s face it, we’re not where we should be,” said Naidoo-Harris. “There’s more work to be done … We can’t just be a boys club; it’s a human beings club – one that we all belong to.”

 

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