political parity

Why you should be less excited about gender parity in Trudeau’s Cabinet.

I will be the first to admit that I was quite excited about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet. Gender parity in Canada’s Cabinet for the first time in Canadian history? It was almost too good to be true.

And then I realized that it was.

Trudeau appointed 15 women and 15 men to his Council of Ministers; a promise he had made in his election campaign which he kept because, “It’s 2015”. However, 5 of the 15 female Ministers are actually Ministers of State. Ministers of State are not full Ministers; they are not in charge of their own separate departments as they have been “assigned to assist” other Ministers, which means that they are not legally authorized to sign orders in Council. While the existence of Ministers of State is not new, it is important to acknowledge that all of the male Ministers are full Ministers; all of the Ministers of State are women.

Liberal sources have said that these 5 women will be referred to as full Ministers and that they will attend all full meetings of the Cabinet but, when you consider the fact that Ministers of State make $20,000 less than full Ministers each year, it becomes problematic. These women are going to be given the title rhetorically and expected to do the same amount of work while being paid less.

When this issue was brought to the attention of the public, a senior government source told the CBC that certain changes had to be made to the Treasury Board statutes concerning roles in the Cabinet in order for these 5 women to be given full ministerial status and salaries; changes that Scott Brison, the new president of the Treasury Board, is expected to make. Whether these changes will be made remains to be seen.

Regardless of whether these changes are coming down the pipeline or not, it is incredibly early in Trudeau’s PM-ship and I am still cautiously optimistic. It is, however, becoming clear that 10 years of hyper-Conservative rule under Stephen Harper has made us all a little giddy about what a Liberal Canada will look like. This revelation about Trudeau’s Cabinet should serve as a sobering reminder that things are not always what they seem on the surface and that it is important for us to remain scrupulous. We have come to expect so little of our government that I am afraid we will let things slide simply because they’re better than they used to be. Better doesn’t necessarily mean good.

Here’s Where Your State Ranks On Gender Equality, According to McKinsey

To come up with the rankings, McKinsey looked compared the states based on 10 factors:

  1. Women’s labor force participation
  2. Types of jobs held by women
  3. Number of women in leadership positions
  4. Unpaid work done by women
  5. Number of single mothers
  6. Maternal mortality
  7. Women’s higher education
  8. Rates of teen pregnancy
  9. Women’s political representation
  10. Violence against women.

Looking across these 10 factors, the researchers then calculated a “State Parity Score,” in which 0 represents total inequality, and 1 represents total equality. All of the states hovered around the middle, with 0.58 being the lowest score (Alaska) and 0.74 being the highest (Maine).