Women, people of colour and immigrants in Canada’s technology sector saw employment and pay inequities persist — and in some cases, worsen — between 2001 and 2016, with women increasingly excluded from tech work throughout that period, according to a new report from the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship at Toronto Metropolitan University.
“It’s infuriating to see that we’re exactly where we started 20 years ago now,” says Viet Vu, the institute’s manager of economic research and lead author of the report.
The research showed women had a six per cent chance of being a tech worker in 2001, but by 2016, that had fallen to just under five per cent. Meanwhile, men had a 20 per cent chance of being a tech worker, which remained unchanged between 2001 and 2016.
With women becoming even more educated in the past 20 years, Vu thinks it isn’t aptitude fuelling the exclusion. Instead, he puts some of the blame on workplace attitudes and phenomena — like gender violence and sexual harassment — that limit their participation.
The report also delved into disparities in pay, finding men made an average of $3.49 more per hour than women between 2001 and 2016. That equates to an average of $7,200 in lost income every year.
Identifying as a visible minority also lowered a person’s pay by an average $3.89 per hour. The report said an immigrant woman identifying as a visible minority and engaging in tech work without a university degree in Canada, on average, is expected to make $18.50 per hour less than a white, non-immigrant man with a university degree. That amounts to a difference in $38,000 in annual income. If the man in this scenario had a university degree, he would make, on average, $8.94 per hour more.
Researchers also observed no pay gap between immigrant and non-immigrant tech workers in 2001, but by 2016, a gap of roughly $5.70 per hour emerged. Over the 15-year period studied, the gap amounted to roughly $4.40 per hour.
“We could have invested in making tech more inclusive, we could invest in allowing more folks to get into tech work but we see fairly little done,” said Vu.
He hopes the report will spark change because he sees identifying inequities as the first step in working toward parity. He also believes the country and its tech sector needs to examine why its current investments and strategies haven’t yielded results. “Maybe we can figure out what does seem to work, how we can tweak it [and] how we can actually fix it so it doesn’t stay status quo anymore.”