The caring professions and other female-dominated areas of the economy are projected to create the most jobs in Canada over the next decade. With the future of jobs increasingly female, we need to focus on raising wages and creating good jobs in these sectors to improve the quality of jobs for everyone.
Thirty per cent of the new jobs projected to be created in the next seven years are expected to be in health care and social assistance, where the workforce is now 83 per cent female. The second-largest share of jobs (8.3 per cent of the total) will be created in the retail sector, where the workforce is 54 per cent female. The male-dominated construction industry will create 7.7 per cent of new jobs. Close behind construction are new jobs in education, accommodation and food services, where the workforce is also predominantly female. The share of jobs in primary, resource and manufacturing industries, all male-dominated, is expected to keep shrinking.
Just under 48 per cent of Canada’s workforce is now female. But more than 54 per cent of new jobs created by 2024 will be in female-dominated sectors, if current gender ratios by industry don’t change. Jobs in female-dominated sectors tend to be lower paid and more precarious than in male-dominated occupations.
There’s been an ongoing push to get more women into traditionally male, higher-paid occupations. These include jobs in science, engineering, technology and trades, as well as management positions. But this positive objective has had limited success. Gender equality in these occupations has largely stalled in the past 20 years. Some of the most gendered industries have become even more so.
So yes, let’s get more women to work in traditionally male-dominated occupations. But let’s also get more men working in traditionally-female occupations, especially those in the growing “care economy.” That’s where a growing number of future jobs will be. By improving gender equality, wages and working conditions in these occupations, we’ll be building a more equal workforce, and more equitable society.