Data Catalyst - InnovationInspired by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics’ look at women in science across the world, and as part of the work we’re doing in exploring the role of gender in the innovation economy, we’ve decided to do a deeper dive into some of the Canadian statistics on the gender disparity in the labour force.

Over the months of April and May, we’ll be sharing some visualizations that look at a particular slice of data around women in the labour force in Canada, and we welcome your feedback and thoughts on what kinds of stories those visualizations tell.

Canadian labour force by gender and age

The visualization below highlights the changing composition of the Canadian labour force by age group and gender, from 1978 to 2012. Using data from Statistics Canada, we’ve broken down the overall workforce data by gender and age, and have charted out the change over time.

A few things we immediately noticed:

  • While the share of both men and women aged 24 to 44 has remained constant since around 1990, the number of individuals aged 45 to 64 in the Canadian labour force has increased.
  • The number of women in the labour force aged 24 to 44 stopped significantly increasing in 1990.
  • There are almost as many men aged 45 to 64 in the labour force as there are women aged 24 to 44.
  • The percentage increase of women in the labour force who are 45 to 64 relative to the whole labour force since 1978 is 229.1%.

What does the data tell you? What actions do we need to take to address some of the issues that come from understanding the data?

All articles in this series:


Labour force: Refers to the labour market activity of the population 15 years of age and over, excluding institutional residents, in the week containing the 15th day of the month prior to Census Day. Respondents are classified as either employed or unemployed. The remainder of the working-age population is classified as not in the labour force.

Labour force participation rate: Total labour force expressed as a percentage of the population aged 15 and over. The participation rate for a particular group (for example, women aged 25 years and over) is expressed as a percentage of the population for that group.