Sales assistant is most common job for women, general manager is top job for men

Men also generally earn more than women in female-dominated occupations.

A Statistics New Zealand study of trends in occupational segregation between women and men shows the most common job for men in 2013 was general manager, while the most common for women was sales assistant.

A chart of the top 20 occupations for women and men in 2013 shows 3.9% of all employed men were general managers, about twice the percentage of women in that role at 1.9%. It also shows 5.9% of employed women are sales assistants, outpacing a 3.6% rate for men.

The report uses census data from the 20 years to 2013 to look at trends in occupational segregation between women and men, which could be useful for the joint employer and union working group announced today that will develop principles under the Equal Pay Act. That in turn could be used by the Employment Court to implement pay equity in the aged-care sector.

When it comes to pay, male-dominated occupations had an average median income of $49,400 compared to $45,800 for female-dominated industries. Women dominated all five lowest-paying occupations, which included housekeepers and restaurant service workers, building caretakers and cleaners, personal care workers, other personal service workers and textile products machine operators.

Men also generally earn more than women in female-dominated occupations. The difference was marked in primary and early childhood teaching with women's median income only 84% of the male median, with part of the reason being men held more senior positions, the report said. The three occupation groups with the largest differences in median incomes for men and women were senior government administrators, health professionals, and legal professionals, with the gap ranging from women earning 56 to 61% of their male counterparts.

In a list of the top 20 occupations for both sexes, women's top five were sales assistant, general clerk, registered nurse, caregiver, and school teacher. The top five for men were general manager, sales assistant, general labourer, builder and heavy truck or tank driver.

The report says occupational segregation is slowly changing, reflecting increasing labour force participation by women and changing aspirations as more obtain tertiary qualifications and pursue professional and managerial careers. However, there are still considerable differences in the types of work in which women and men are concentrated, and what they get paid even within the same occupations.

Women were most heavily represented in clerical occupations where they comprised over three-quarters of all workers, and they were also over-represented in sales and service, professional and technical and associated professional occupations. They were under-represented in all types of manual work, particularly in skilled trades where they made up just 5% of the workforce.

Women are now almost as likely as men to work in managerial roles and accounted for 59% of growth in managerial employment. However, women managers were considerably less likely to be in higher management positions in some areas and are still concentrated in female-dominated industries such as education and health and community services.

Overall, the report said women tend to have high representation in senior management in special interest organisations and government but low levels in local government and private companies. One historically male area woman managers have penetrated is agriculture, forestry and fishing where they account for 40% in 2013, compared to 26% in 2001.

Female professionals now outnumber males, increasing their representation to 58% in 2013 from 54% in 1991. But the report says they tend to be concentrated in particular professions such as nursing and teaching.

The number of women working in life science professions doubled between 1991 and 2013 to 44%. Women are now just as likely as men to have qualifications in the area of natural and physical sciences – the only area of study that had no high level segregation of the sexes.