Knowledge Center

Women in the Workforce: Canada


Canada's Population is Both Growing and Aging


Canada's population growth is higher than all other Group of 7 (G7),1 nations including that of the United Kingdom and the United States. 2

As of [2014], women represented slightly more than 50% of Canada's total population (17,915,400).3

Canada is facing demographic shifts due to its aging population.

  • Almost one in six Canadians are aged 65 and older (15.7% of Canada's total population)4
  •  In 2014, Canada's population included more senior women aged 65 and older (17% of the total population of women) than girls aged 14 and younger (16%).5

Today, there are more retirement-aged people (5564) in Canada than people entering the workforce (1524).6

  • By 2031, nearly one-quarter (24%) of the total female population is projected to be aged 65 or older, up from 16% in 2010.  7

Canadian Women Are Becoming More Diverse


  • As of 2011, 19% of all Canadian women and girls were visible minorities (3.2 million).8
  • By 2031, women visible minorities may be as high as 31%.9
  • Aboriginal women's population grew at four times the rate (20%) of all Canadian women (4.8%) between 2006 and 2011. 10

More Canadian Women Are Single11


Today, 56% of women 15 and older live as part of a couple, down from 60% 30 years ago.12

  • Of women aged 15 and older, 44% are not living as part of a couple.13

Labor Force

More Canadian Women are Working, but in Lower Paying Jobs14 

In 2014, women represented nearly half (47.3%) of the of the labour force compared to 37.1% in 1976, an increase of close to 30%.15

  • More than 45% of employed Canadian women work in one of 20 low-paying occupations, including retail sales associate, administrative assistant, and cashier positions.16 
  • Full-time employed women earn on average about 19% less than their male counterparts. Mothers 25 to 44 years old suffer the largest gender wage gap. 17



Despite More Canadian Women in Management, Parity Remains Elusive18


In 2009, women comprised 37% of managers, up nearly 23% from 30.1% in 1979. Despite this:19

  • Currently there is only one woman head on the TSX 60.20
    • ​Women hold just 20.8% of board seats at Canadian Stock Index Companies.21 
      • Denmark, France, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom are just some of the countries with a higher percentage of board seats held by women.22 ​ 

Women comprise just 38.6% of the Senate and 25.2% of the House of Commons.23

Women's participation rate in business and finance increased more than 44% from 1987 (38.3%) to 2009 (55.2%). 24


2014 Occupation25 % of Women
All Management Occupations 35.7%
Senior Management 32.1%
Other Management 35.8%



Canadian Women Are More Educated Than Ever 


Women account for more than half of university graduates. 26

  • Women earned 52.7% of university degrees (including bachelor's degrees and higher) in 2011.27

Younger women have a higher share of STEM degrees than older women, but overall, men continue to hold the majority of STEM degrees.28

  • Women between the ages of 25 to 64 made up approximately one-third (32.6%) of all men and women with STEM degrees.  29


Additional Resources

Catalyst, Catalyst Accord: Women On Corporate Boards In Canada (2012).

Catalyst, Quick Take Visible Minorities (2012).

Anna Beninger, High-Potential Employees in the Pipeline: Maximizing the Talent Pool in Canadian Organizations (Catalyst, 2012).




How to cite this product: Catalyst. Quick Take: Women in Canada. New York: Catalyst, May 6, 2015.