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John Tory’s gender wage gap comments land him in hot water

Ashleigh Patterson
Big push for John Tory mayoralty run begins in Toronto. (The Canadian Press)

John Tory would have us believe the backlash he's experiencing following his remarks on women and the gender wage gap is a “manufactured controversy.”

But, let's face it, if that is what this is, he is the man at the controls.

Tory, a radio talk show host and a rumoured candidate in Toronto’s mayoral race, has found himself on the defensive after he blurted out during a televised interview his thoughts on why women continue to earn less money than their male peers in the workplace.

Among the more notable comments, Tory recalled how, during the early days of a law career, the men in his firm were far more likely to negotiate over wages with than women.

“The women don’t come as often to complain. The men do, so my experience is a little different in that I do think that more men put a fuss up about their money,” he told CP24 host Stephen LeDrew.

Queue the outrage. Both women and men quickly took to Twitter to register their dismay, with many using the hashtag #outoftouch.

“Asked for a raise twice and got denied. How is that MY fault,” wrote Hillary Davis.

Tory's later efforts to dig himself out of the hole only seemed to mire him further.

Speaking to the issue on Newstalk 1010, Tory set off a whole new fury, and an accompanying hashtag, after he said learning to play golf would be “immensely beneficial” to a young woman's career.

“If childcare workers played golf they would enjoy a better wage. #JohnToryCareerTips,” wrote Jennifer Hassum.

According to a recent Statistics Canada study, women working full time earned about 83 per cent of what men did in 2011. When both part-time and full-time workers are tallied, that number drops to about 76 per cent, based on average weekly wages.

The reasons behind the continued disparity are as complex as they are controversial.

Experts have weighed in on the continuing struggle faced by women to balance family responsibilities -- both paid and unpaid -- noting in some cases, women hold themselves back early on in their careers believing they can`t “have it all.”

Others point to the so-called “pink ghetto” – a reference to a historical pattern of women choosing to enter lower-paying professions such as nursing, retail and childcare.

The National Household Survey released last spring found that, among the 20 most common occupations for women, women accounted for more than nine out of 10 workers in: administrative assistant; registered nurse and registered psychiatric nurse; early childhood educator and assistant; and receptionist.”

That compares to men who were most likely to be working in transport and the trades (25.5 per cent), sales and service jobs (18.7 per cent) and management gigs (14 per cent).