Bill Curry describes the federal government’s legislation designed to formalize respect for gender orientation and to gain pay equity for women in full-time positions in companies with 10 employees or more. Currently, on average, women earn 12 cents per hour less than men while doing work of similar value.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Social studies, current events, gender studies

Key Question(s) to Explore:

  • What is workplace gender inequity and how does the government’s new bill attempt to eliminate it?

New Terminology:

Equity, OECD, omnibus bill

Materials Needed:

Globe article, the Internet

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

Gender equity does not yet exist in Canada. We rank 15th out of 29 OECD countries in hourly gender wage gap for full-time work. This means that for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes 88 cents for work of similar value. With an omnibus bill that includes the Poverty Reduction Act, the creation of a Department for Women and Gender Equality, and the Pay Equity Act, the federal government hopes to address gender inequality.

Students, male and female, can benefit from a lesson that can inform their rights as employees and their obligations as future employers. Students will work in pairs to conduct a survey on pay equity in their community and report their findings to class.

Action (lesson plan and task):

Engage students in a discussion about gender pay equity. Ask female students if they know whether they, or any woman they know, has been—or is being—paid less than a male doing the same job.

Have students read the Bill Curry article aloud to the class. Ask whether students feel a Department for Women and Gender Equality is needed these days, given all the apparent advances for women over recent decades. Note any differences in the responses between male students and female students.

Ask: Do you believe there are cases of gender pay inequity in our community? Have students cite examples, if they have any; ask whether they believe there are acceptable reasons for any inequities and discuss the responses.

Announce an assignment:

Students will work with a partner to complete the following survey in their community. They are to interview five women (or fewer, if it’s a small community with few employers), in person, who are currently full-time employees, as well as five women via social media or email, who have been full-time employees. Tasks and guidelines:

  • For in-person interviews, choose any business or profession where you see a woman working. Ask for permission to conduct a short interview (less than five minutes) for your class assignment. Name your school and your teacher. You may need to get approval from the employer or manager of the business. Tell employers and prospective interviewees that they will remain anonymous; neither their name nor the name of the business will be in your report.
  • Ask:
    • As far as you know, are you being paid the same wage or salary as a man would be paid for doing the same work?
    • If the answer is no: What is the difference in pay between genders? What reasons, if any, does your employer provide for the inequity?
    • If the answer is yes: Did you have to request equal pay, or was it offered? Is your case exceptional, or is pay equity employer policy?
    • Currently, across Canada, women are paid 88 cents for every dollar that men are paid for work of the same value. How do you feel about that?
  • For the second part, connect with your social media contacts and ask the same set of questions. Note the answers. For those you choose to include in your report, follow-up to determine the accuracy of the person’s response. Ensure they are relaying personal experiences only.
  • Bonus task: If you know any LGBTQ2 students or adults who are willing to speak to you anonymously, ask: Do you feel your school, friends, and society respect your identified gender as much as heterosexuals? If no: What are some examples of disrespect that you have experienced? Do you tell others—heterosexuals especially—about your negative experiences? If yes: How do they typically respond? If no: Why not?
  • Work with your partner to write a report on your findings, which you will report to class.
  • Finally, the federal government’s new Department for Women and Gender Equality will have responsibility for “all matters relating to women and gender equality, including the advancement of equality in respect of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity expression and the promotion of a greater understanding of the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors.”
    • Discuss this with your partner. How do you understand the excerpt in quotation marks, above? How might it affect you or your friends? If you completed the bonus task: How do responses from LGBTQ2 people support or contradict the stated goals of the new federal department?

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Students discuss their reports in a subsequent class.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

  • Students can describe gender pay equity issues, cite examples to demonstrate their understanding, and describe the purpose of the new federal act.

Confirming Activity:

  • Ask students to report on the passage of the Pay Equity Act and any news items related to it. As well, working female students will report any personal cases of attempts to pay them less than a male for the same work, full-time or part-time.