Women in the Workplace
Lower wages for women than men, sexual harassment in the workplace, lack of women in management, discrimination against women wanting to work in jobs traditionally held only by men…
The Women’s Movement in NL tackled a long list of issues concerning women in the workplace in the 1970s and 80s – several of which still exist today. Many of the inequities facing working women were glaring:
- In 1978, women squid jiggers in the Twillingate Islands were told they weren’t eligible for unemployment benefits – although men squid jiggers received them. The women had to organize a protest in Ottawa before their claims were finally processed.
- Wages for domestic workers (roles traditionally filled by women) were lower than minimum wage. In 1986, the minimum wage was $4.00/hour and the domestic wage was $2.75/hour.
- In 1984, the Newfoundland Status of Women Council reported that 60% of NL women in the labour force occupied jobs at the lowest end of the pay scale.
Women across the province worked to improve these conditions. Some of their work focused on supporting individual women who had been discriminated against in the workplace. Other efforts were aimed at effecting changes in policies and legislation. For instance, the Corner Brook Status of Women Council started a Women’s Employment Counselling Project in 1980 to help women find and train for careers. The Mokami Status of Women Council developed work projects for women in their area; and the Newfoundland Status of Women Council (later St. John’s Status of Women Council) presented a number of briefs to government on issues such as how minimum wage and unemployment benefits regulations affected women.