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SOSC 1350 Lecture Notes - Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, Socialist Feminism, Comparator

Social Science
Course Code
SOSC 1350
Julie Dowsett

of 5
February 29. 2012
1. Sexual Harassment of Canadian Women in the Workplace
Studies have shown that anywhere from 40%-90% of Canadian women are likely to experience
sexual harassment in the workplace the measurement depends on sexual harassment is
1. Quid Pro Quo (Latin for trade) you sleep with me or youre fired, etc.
2. Poisonous Work Environment sexually suggestive jokes, hostile behavior, bringing
attention to women’s bodies behavior that makes the workplace an uncomfortable place
for women not usually one comment, but an accumulation of these kinds of comments
Sexual harassment protection in both Canadian Human Rights Act (1985) and Provincial Human
Rights Act (1985), and Canadian Labor Code (1985) it’s only been 25 years since sexual
harassment has been on the books
Prior to that, you could only do something if it led to violence however, it doesn’t always lead to
a. Sexual harassment as a response to the “threat” posed by women in non-traditional
Sexual harassment is often a response by men who feel threatened by women in the
Studies have shown that in fields traditionally associated with men, sexual harassment of
women is rampant (i.e., engineering, corporate law, auto industry, working trades)
75% of women working in non-traditional fields are sexually harassed (regardless of the
class position that you’re working in)
b. Sexual harassment in fields traditionally occupied by women
Also, there’s a high rate of sexual harassment in fields dominated by women (i.e., nursing
(76% reported being sexual assaulted), flight attendants (75+%))
This could be for various reasons such as uniforms, their job is often seen as being eye
candy (i.e., Halloween sexy nurse/flight attendant this causes these jobs to be highly
c. Effects of sexual harassment of women at work
It has been shown to hamper their integration into the workforce
Women who are sexually harassed are often transferred, or sometimes left without a job
i. Psychological effects
ii. Physical effects
iii. Economic effects
Severe economic effects
Women often lose salary if they quit a job because of sexual harassment they cannot
tolerate anymore
They have lower rates of continuous employment, can lose seniority, can lose seniority
and have negative references
Women who report are often seen as “troublemakers” or women who can’t take a joke
2. Heterosexual Courtship Rituals in Canada, Or, Assumptions About the
Sexual Availability of All Women
The idea that women are seen as troublemakers who can’t take jobs relates to the social
construction masculinity, feminity, and heterosexual courtship rituals. It relates to the
assumptions that Canadian society as a whole has about women all women are or should be
sexually available to men
a. Norms developed during the late-19th and early-20th centuries established a script
familiar to most Canadians today
b. Men as initiators of all phases of intimate relationship development
Courtship rituals men are the aggressors and women are passive and expected to await
the call of potential suitors (i.e., men chase women, men ask women out on dates, women
accept marriage proposals from men etc.)
The power given to women in heterosexual courtship rituals is that she gets to choose the
3. Employment Equity and Pay Equity
Prior to WWII, there were fewer women who entered the labor force in Canada. Historically, only
certain groups of women (i.e., mostly low income women and women of color tended to be active
members of the labor force).
Some white middle-class women took on paid employment prior to WWII, but that was usually to
gain some extra money (pin money), until they got married and settled down
This idea that women never worked until WWII is problematic in that many women were working
prior to WWII women of color had no choice and were always working
This women were mostly relegated to lower paying jobs such as domestic work, family business
With WWII, a large number of men went off to fight, and a large number of women in Canada and
other countries in Canada and Britain had to step up and actively work in the labor force
During WWII, women worked in all kinds of factories and fields to support the war efforts
During the war, the Canadian government set up a national daycare to help these women work in
paid work because they needed help as the men were off fighting
Their efforts paid off and women from all facets of life took on positions within the labor force
But after the war, women were effectively pushed out of these positions, daycare seized to be a
priority for the government, and there was this idea that women should return to the household
Therefore, during the 1960s as more women entered the laborforce, they became very dissatisfied
they had experienced the working world, and were very unhappy with the types of jobs they
were offered
However, they did not have a choice in that they had to provide economically for their family. This
single breadwinner norm, although mostly a norm for white middle class in the 50s, has become
increasingly unsustainable. It is no possible for most families to live at least a middle-lower class
lifestyle with only one breadwinner. This made women enter the labor force much more as well
Universities were expanding during the 60s, and women went to university and expected to be
able to work in challenging, well-paid jobs, but found that they couldn’t
50s, 60s, 70s women entering the labor force found:
o Gender division of labor up and until the 70s women were in fields like teaching (largely
elementary school), social work and nursing
o Wage gap They found that even when they graduated university they were still not
making equal money to men (even to this day women make 74 cents to every dollar that
men make)
o Invisible glass ceiling women will get into an organization and will be promoted to a
certain degree, and then they’ll find that they’ve hit this invisible glass where they can no
longer be promoted to higher positions (i.e., top management positions are prone to gender
and race biases). Even in the legal professions, women are confined to certain areas of law
and are lower earners
Women of color and racialized minority groups are less likely than white women to hold
managerial positions, and more likely to be in lower paying manual/service positions
Most women who come to the country as citizens come as family class because the way the point
system works is that it rewards particular male-dominated professions. Women who come with a
male partner often find themselves not having their credentials recognized and therefore puts
women of color in a lower position in the labor force
There has been some legal attempt to deal with this
In Canada, employment equity and pay equity has been legislated separately they’ve been seen
as addressing separate problems that require separate laws
In doing so, it gives a disservice to those marginalized in the labor force
a. Employment equity seeks to redress discriminatory employment practices
(especially hiring, promotion and retention)
Employment equity seeks to redress discriminatory employment practices including
hiring, promotion, retention
Racism and sexism play a role in hiring practices (i.e., people with more WASP sounding
names, that is John, etc., are more likely to be hired)
b. Pay equity is aimed at reducing the wage gap between men and women
Pay equity aimed at the wage gap between men and women (i.e., legal mechanisms to
address the pay gap between men and women)
c. Many feminists have questioned why these are separate legal policies
Many countries do not treat these as separate policies
It’s very clear that the significantly lower pay of women is directly related to their
occupational segregation within the labor force
Cross-country comparisons have generally shown that when employment and pay equity
are treated the same, they tend to have a much higher result. They have to operate together
to be effective
March 1,2012
E.g., childcare workers men tend to be paid more because it’s a learned skill, whereas it’s in the
female nature to look after children
March 7, 2012
4. Pay Equity in Canada: A Brief History
a. International Declaration of Human Rights (UN, 1948): “everyone, without any
discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work
One of the reasons why these policies are legislated separately:
o Pay equity comes from outside of Canada it dates back to the International
Declaration of Human rights from 1948. This was an important document for the
then new UN.
o Part of this document was “everyone without any discrimination has the right to
equal pay for equal work”