NZ gender pay gap unchanged in more than a decade

Paula Bennett described the results as "really disappointing".

The gap between what men and women are paid on average has barely shifted in the 14 years since the first major attempt to measure the difference was published in 2003, a new report from the Ministry for Women has found.

The report, Empirical Evidence of the Gender Pay Gap in New Zealand, says the gender pay gap, based on 2015 income statistics, was 12.7%, compared with 12.8% in the 2003 study, which was based on data from the late 1990s.

In fact, the main thing that's changed between then and now is that women are, on average, more highly qualified than men. The report found that "at almost all educational attainment levels, females now outstrip their male counterparts."

"For instance, the proportion of males with a bachelor's qualification or higher increased from 14.3% to 22.5% in 2015 and for females increased from 12.4% to 30.5%."

Men were more likely than women to have no qualifications, at 16.3% versus 14.2%.

Yet there was "clear evidence of a glass ceiling effect in New Zealand, with the gender pay gap increasing as we move up the wage distribution."

At the bottom end of the earnings scale, there was no measurable difference between what men and women earn, while at the top the difference ranged between 18% and 21%.

In her first major speech as Minister for Women, Paula Bennett described the results as "really disappointing" and vowed that closing the gender pay gap was among her "top priorities" in the portfolio.

The new analysis also found that only about a fifth of the pay differential could be explained by known variables, such as many women leaving the workforce to have children and therefore advancing their careers more slowly than men, with the highest-paid jobs showing the least degree of explainable difference.

"The pay gap that is unexplained becomes larger and more significant as we move up the wage distribution," the report says. "For instance, at the 90th%ile, almost 100% of the pay gap is unexplained."

Across the whole workforce, the average hourly rate for a man came in at $29, while women averaged $25 an hour. The survey sample also found women were three times more likely to be sole parent, widowed or divorced than men, while men in 2015 were more likely to be living in households with children under the age of six.

Women were more than three times more likely than men to be working part-time.


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