Study: male retail workers receive preferential treatment
At least in Ontario, frontline male workers are paid more than women in every occupational category at retail, according to a new study from Brock University.
Kendra Coulter, associate professor in Brock’s Centre for Labour Studies and the report’s lead author, along with Angella MacEwen, an economist at the Canadian Labour Congress, and Sheetal Rawal, a lawyer with expertise in pay equity issues, gathered statistical, policy, survey, and legal data in contributing to the study.
Among the key findings of the report:
- Women greatly outnumber men in cashier, sales and supervisor positions, with men outnumbering women only in manager positions, the occupation which pays the most;
- Fifty-nine percent of male salespeople are employed full-time compared to 38 percent of female salespeople;
- The highest variances in pay between men and women were at the manager and supervisor levels, but pay was higher for men across positions.
Included was a anonymous survey of nearly 400 retail workers conducted between February and March 2016 that explored pay, hiring, work distribution and hours, promotions and working conditions. Seventy-two percent of survey respondents were women.
Some of the findings:
- Forty-three percent of those surveyed felt that working hours are unfairly distributed, determined by favoritism and nepotism, with 45 percent saying that work tasks are unfairly distributed;
- Forty-eight percent identify inequalities in workplace promotions, with many attributing favoritism and a “boy’s club” mentality as the cause.
The researchers said a wide variety of answers showed how different management approaches, workplace cultures and individual actions can affect how stores operate and the working conditions therein. But much like the louder discussions concerning diversity in the corporate workplace, the researchers said the survey showed “particular kinds of characteristics and expectations considered to be more or less ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ shape people of all kinds,” influencing opportunities for both genders.
- The Gender Wage Gap in Ontario’s Retail Sector: Devaluing Women’s Work and Women Workers – Brock University Centre for Labour Studies
- Brock labour expert releases report on gender wage gap in retail – Brock University Centre for Labour Studies
- Brock University researcher launches online survey of Ontario retail workers – Brock University Centre for Labour Studies
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you suspect pay levels among male and female sales associates in the U.S. are similar or different to the Ontario study? Are there reasons beyond overt or covert biases to explain why male retail workers are paid better and are promoted more frequently than their female counterparts?