March 04 , 2010


Pay, gender, race disparity still obstruct Canadian women, says professor

International Women’s Day being observed March 8


Hamilton, Ont. March 04, 2010Despite strides for women in the last 40 years, issues of gender and pay inequities remain pressing problems despite government intervention, says a professor at McMaster University.

“International Women's Day is a time for women to take stock of their accomplishments as
well as the many barriers they still face,” says Susan Fast, professor of English & Cultural
Studies and coordinator of McMaster’s new graduate program in Gender Studies &
Feminist Research. “It’s like an annual report card of where we’ve been and where we’re
going. It’s also a chance to draw attention to major issues that continue to impact women,
such as violence against women and the crumbling social safety net.”

International Women’s Day is being observed worldwide on March 8. It is also known as the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.

When it comes to pay issues, government legislation has not been able to close the
earning gap, says Fast, citing statistics from the Canadian Research Institute for the
Advancement of Women that show that Canadian women earn 73% of what men do for
full-year, full-time work, and 67% of minimum-wage earners are women.

“What we’re seeing is that racism and sexism are now compounding that problem, and
forcing more women into poverty” says Fast. In particular, Middle Eastern women (52%),
Latin American women (51%), black women (47%), and aboriginal women (43%) currently
live in poverty.

“International Women's Day celebrations recognize that women are a social force to be
reckoned with but the goal of achieving equality and social justice continues," she says.
“The fact that women’s studies and gender studies programs will be elevated to the
graduate level in universities such as McMaster indicates the evolution of the field and the
need for advanced scholarship and research.”

International Women’s Day will be marked at McMaster University from March 5 to March 12.

Several public talks have been organized throughout the week-long event. Stephen Lewis, humanitarian and associate professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences, will address gender equality; Deborah Ellis, a Governor-General’s Literary award winner, will speak about the role of women inspiring hope around the world; Dr. Jasmine Zine, associate professor of Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University, will speak about Muslim women and feminism; and Dr. Amber Dean, a postdoctoral fellow in English & Cultural Studies and sessional instructor in Women’s Studies, looks at what feminism means in the 21st century. Details on times and venues at




For more information, please contact:


Susan Fast

Professor and Coordinator, Gender Studies and Feminist Research,

McMaster University

905-525-9140 ext. 23670



Jane Christmas

Manager, Public & Media Relations

McMaster University

905-525-9140 ext. 27988



Michelle Donovan

Public Relations Manager: Broadcast Media

McMaster University

905-525-9140 ext. 22869