Canada tends to leave its machismo on the ice. Our country generally ranks highly on measures of gender balance. The gap between the percentage of men and the percentage of women who work or are looking for work is the narrowest in the G20, according to a 2014 report by four international institutions, including the World Bank. The divide in Canada was in the high single digits; by comparison, the spread in Italy and Japan was more than 20 percentage points. In Mexico, 35; India and Saudi Arabia, more than 50.
But in this competition, even the winners are losers: Only 60% of women over 25 are members of Canada’s labour pool. That’s a lot of untapped economic output. And for some reason, the country’s leaders have been OK with that. Like the rest of the world, the percentage of Canadian women in the workforce is stuck roughly where it was a decade ago. Traditional attitudes surely explain some of that: Some women will simply prefer to raise their children without the added burden of a formal job.
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