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New Zealand’s gender pay gap is closing, but equality is still far off

New data from Statistics New Zealand reveals the gender pay gap was 9.4 percent in the June 2017 quarter, down from 12 percent in June 2016. It’s the smallest gender pay gap in five years, after women’s average hourly pay rose at a faster pace than men’s.

“Recently, there’s been a spotlight on gender pay inequality in New Zealand,” labour and income statistics manager Sean Broughton said. “The decrease from a 12 percent gap last year is the biggest drop in the gender pay gap since the series began in 1998.”

In the June 2017 quarter, half of workers aged 15 years and older earned more than $959 a week from paid employment. This is a rise of $35 (3.8 percent) from the June 2016 quarter. Paid employment includes both wage and salary earners and self-employed people.

Yet the data also reveals continued discrimination against minorities. Median weekly earnings from paid employment for M?ori was just $884. And while M?ori men earned an average of $1,000 per week, M?ori women earned just $767.

Median weekly earnings from wages and salaries also only 2.4 percent – below the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s average consumer price index inflation rate of 2.7 percent since 2000, and barely above the current inflation rate of 1.7 percent.

Earlier this year, the Empirical evidence of the gender pay gap in New Zealand report released by the Ministry for Women revealed that the main reason women continuing to be paid less than men for the same work was due to “unexplained” factors. Some of those factors: conscious and unconscious bias, and (surprise, surprise) sexism.

Led by Professor Gail Pacheco from AUT, the report is the first comprehensive update of the factors behind the national gender pay gap since 2003. As the report ominously concluded: “There is clear evidence pointing to a glass ceiling effect in NZ.”

As Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Women Paula Bennett said at the time of the release of the report: “It is simply unacceptable that women who are as productive and contribute so significantly to business and the economy are paid less than men. I’m here to tell you it’s no longer acceptable to keep ignoring this issue. We need to consciously work together to put this right.”

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