Decomposition analysis of gender pay gaps among psychologists in Canada

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University of New Brunswick


Female healthcare practitioners worldwide face multiple gender-related challenges, including pay gaps. Early research on the Canadian psychologist workforce highlights differences in earnings between women and men, which may reflect undervaluing of female-dominated work like counselling and psychosocial support. However, much of the existing research on gender wage gaps to inform gender-responsive health workforce financing policy focuses on physicians and nurses, and timely evidence on the psychologist workforce is inadequate. This research evaluates and decomposes the gender pay gap among psychologists using the latest available national data. Microdata from the 2016 Canadian Population Census, accessed from the New Brunswick Research Data Centre, are analyzed with linear regression models and the Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition method to evaluate wage differences by sex (male/female), traditional human capital measures (e.g., education, hours worked) and components of socially institutionalized gender roles (e.g., children in the household). A significant adjusted wage gap of 35% was found between male and female psychologists. After adjusting for both professional and personal characteristics, 33% of the gap remained unexplained. Among parents, a much wider gender wage gap of 49% was found, consistent with the Motherhood Earnings Penalty theoretical framework. The results highlight the need for greater focus on gender equity in the psychologist workforce, ultimately resulting in a better performing mental health services system.