Is The Globe & Mail’s Power Gap Series Truly Revolutionary?
Canadian Journalistic Feminism Through the Lense of Establishment News
April 8, 2021
By: Micah Dewey
In the article, This is the Power Gap: Explore the Investigative Series and Data by Robyn Doolittle and Chen Wang, there appears to have been a definitive decision by The Globe and Mail not to include statistics for racialized or non-gender conforming workers. Why did either The Globe and Mail veto the release of this information or the article’s authors chose to exclude the specified data? In this paper, I will argue that The Globe and Mail’s release of the above report was strictly political pandering to their audience when we compare Doolittle and Wang’s coverage of the gender pay gap against that of other prominent feminist labour scholars and organizations.
Historically, The Globe and Mail have editorially leaned slightly to the right on the political spectrum, in my opinion, and are generally critical of the ruling Liberal Party and the actions or policy decisions of current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. This understanding requires a deeper look into the omissions made by the original authors. The remainder of this paper will be examining some of the statistics that Doolittle and Wang left out of their article that author and advocate Sheila Block (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) and the Canadian Women’s Foundation have made available, and why the newspaper may not have wanted that specific piece of information made public. There is an endless amount of data available on the subject, but what is important to note is that all three publishers of the aforementioned articles agreed that the gender pay gap exists and that it is a problem that needs active participation amongst all levels of society. Doolittle and Wang open their piece with this statement, “For women in the workplace, progress has stalled. By almost every metric, they continue to lag generations behind men.” This quote illustrates that the authors understand that there is a problem related to gender wealth disparities. On the first page of the fact sheet provided by the Candian Women’s Foundation, they explicitly state, “No matter which calculation is used, the wage gap clearly exists for women in Canada.” Shiela Block also investigates Statistics Canada data from the 2016 Census in her article, Canada’s population is changing, but income inequality remains a problem. She says this about Indigenous and First Nations women:
“Indigenous women’s incomes were 55 per cent of non-indigenous men, meaning there is a 45 per cent income gap between Indigenous women and non-Indigenous men.”
As you can see, there is no divergence on the topic at hand by the three articles and their authors. Therefore, the obfuscation of the data surrounding racialized and non-gender conforming women by The Globe and Mail is even more suspicious.
Doolittle and Wang’s data only encapsulates a small fragment of society to make a greater feminist and labour rights argument. The data set that they utilize only includes federal employees who make over $100,000 per year. These statistics are misleading, to say the least. In Block’s article, she mentions that First Nations peoples’ median income was $31,519 in 2015. If the median income was this low, how many First Nations people even fit into this arbitrary category derived by the authors of The Globe and Mail piece? The only statistics the authors mention about racialized peoples revolve around the top 1% of Federal employees who make over $100,000 a year. In a prominent graphic within the article, the authors state, “that of the 1059 workers that represent the top 1%, 289 are women, and only 27 are BIPOC women.” Doolittle and Wang’s focus on the top 1% of federal employees completely ignores that BIPOC women make up only 3% of their dataset while Indigenous peoples make up over 4.9% of Canada’s population alone. I also found it revealing that in their approximately 2,300 words written, they never mention any of these terms: First Nations, Indigenous, Metis, Black, Asian, LBGT. This omission indicates that women who identify with these specific labels are not the target of this piece, so who is? In my opinion, the consumers of establishment newspapers in 2021 are most likely to be older people, generally men in the case of The Globe and Mail, and readers who are likely to be politically on the “right”. The article targets a general, older, male, partisan audience by explicitly showing readers how the Trudeau government (and various provincial governments) have failed in their publicly-stated goal of closing the wealth gap in federal employment.
Doolittle and Wang focus mainly on the level at which a woman reaches the ‘glass ceiling’ and not which industry or position she holds. The authors seem to intentionally leave out specific facts or data that would leave the reader more informed. They claim that “We targeted the public sector because this is the only workplace salary data available to scrutinize.” This previous statement is, at best, ignorance, at worst, a flat-out lie. Why? The fact sheet from the Canadian Women’s Foundation states that “…most women workers are employed in lower-wage occupations and lower-paid industries…[and] around 50% of the wage gap is attributed to the fact that women are more likely to be found in lower-paying jobs.” The data exists from Statistics Canada. I have personally used it before for research, and the writers of the fact sheet used official government sources. Why couldn’t Doolittle and Wang?
Overall, the article, This is the Power Gap: Explore the Investigative Series and Data by Robyn Doolittle and Chen Wang investigates a specific segment of the population that would be politically convenient for their readers. The levels of obfuscation and excuses made by the authors as to why they could not provide data for low-income workers, racialized women, and women who have non-conforming gender identities is unacceptable in a publication that is as widely read as The Globe and Mail. The authors seem to disenfranchise women working in under-paid positions when they said this, “Only high-earning public employees in provinces with legislation are subject to disclosure. Usually, the threshold is $100,000. In jurisdictions with a lower bar, The Globe only captured employees who earned six-figures.” This quote shows the lack of importance the two authors place on low-to-medium waged women workers when the data is freely available. Both Block and the Canadian Women’s Foundation take a more well-rounded approach to the pay gap by using publically available information that organizes workers, public or private, based on self-categorization and tax records from the Canadian Census.
Block, Sheila. “Canada’s Population Is Changing but Income Inequality Remains a…” The Monitor, October 27, 2017. https://monitormag.ca/articles/canadas-population-is-changing-but-income-inequality-remains-a-problem.
Doolittle, Robyn, and Chen Wang. “This Is the Power Gap: Explore the Investigative Series and Data.” The Globe and Mail, January 22, 2021. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-power-gap/.
“Fact Sheet: The Gender Wage Gap in Canada.” Canadian Women’s Foundation, August 2018. https://www.canadianwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Gender-Wage-GapFact-Sheet_AUGUST-2018_FINAL1.pdf.\