Spotlight on gender pay gap

More attention is being given to the gender pay gap in New Zealand since the change of Government.

Stuff: Broadcasters silent on pay equity, as Stats NZ plan to measure gender gap

The Government has ordered Statistics NZ to begin measuring the country’s gender pay gap.

Levelling out salaries in the public sector is something the new Government has committed to.

Recently media companies across the world have female co-hosts quitting due to the gender pay gap – citing that doing the same job and not getting the same pay was not right.

Quitting doesn’t fix the problem.

On November 14 last year TVNZ’s Hilary Barry tweeted “Dear Women of NZ, I’ve got some bad news for you. From today until the end of the year you’re working for free.”

Barry is rumoured to be fronting Seven Sharp, which has always had a formula of one male and one female presenter. TVNZ would not comment if there would be any discrepancy in wages for the incoming hosts.

MediaWorks also refused to say whether The Project hosts Jesse Mulligan, Kanoa Lloyd and Josh Thomson, were paid equally. The show returns to screens on Monday.

The article did not say whether Fairfax was asked whether there is a gender pay gap in their media operations.

Mark Greer, owns Hawke’s Bay business services company Bizdom​.

Greer questioned if the Government would even be able to tackle the topic, because it was one that was a lot more convoluted than a simple tweak to legislation.

“I would be concerned if the Government started saying I had to have certain percentage of females and males. I just don’t know if the Government can do anything about [decreasing the gender wage gap].”

The Government can ensure that there is pay equity in the public service. They can also encourage and pressure private companies in to doing likewise – having good statistics will help with this.

The Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement includes:

12. . Eliminate the gender pay gap within the core public sector with substantial progress within this Parliamentary term, and work to ensure the wider public sector and private sector is on a similar pathway.

“Substantial progress within this Parliamentary term” and “ensure the wider public sector and private sector is on a similar pathway” is vague and indicates no confidence in rapid change.

Stuff:

But new Statistics Minister James Shaw believed there was an onus on his department to gather the data, so the Government could fix it.

It was too early to know exactly how it was going to be measured, Shaw said in a written statement.

That statement from Shaw appears to have been to the Sunday Star Times, I can’t find it anywhere online.

Utopia – you are standing in it! has posted:

Not sure to what to make of this because extensive data is already collected.

From this link:

Summary and recommendation

We consider that median hourly earnings from the New Zealand Income Survey (NZIS) is the best measure for calculating the gender pay gap.

We recommend this measure for three reasons.

  • Hourly earnings measure pay for a fixed quantity of work.
  • The median is a better measure of ‘typical’ pay than the average (mean).
  • NZIS collects individuals’ income from paid jobs, which allows us to build a picture of how pay is distributed across the population.

Using the NZIS measure, we find that in the June 2015 quarter the gender pay gap was 11.8 percent. This means that a typical male earned about 12 percent more for an hour’s work than a typical female.

The gender pay gap has generally been decreasing since 1998, and has fluctuated in the last few years.

What does the gender pay gap look like in New Zealand?

In the June 2015 quarter, median hourly pay for males was $24.07 and for females it was $21.23. The gender pay gap was 11.8 percent. This means that a typical female earned about 12 percent less for an hour’s work than a typical male.

Graph, Gender pay gap, calculated using median hourly earnings, June quarter 1998 to 2015.

It was trending down at the end of last century but didn’t change much during the Clark government years.

Was it the Global Financial Crisis that closed the pay gap slightly from 2008? That looks likely because it is trending up again.

Does this reflect an entrenched pay disparity, or is it because females are still far more likely to interrupt their careers to raise families? Or females don’t put such a priority on high earning jobs? It’s probably a complex mix of all of this.

Sometimes it can be pure business economics. All Blacks earn substantially more than their female counterparts the Black Ferns, so male players will be able to be paid substantially more.

In other fields it can be more complicated. Do male TV presenters attract better ratings and more advertising revenue than female presenters? Is this because they are given better opportunities, better shows, better time slots? It will be difficult to determine these things simply through statistics.

Aged care workers have recently had large pay increases to address a court ruling that there was real disparity. This should also apply to mental health workers and others, but comparing different types of jobs can be difficult, and there’s a risk if creating a snowball effect – if one industry succeeds in proving greater worth then others will want to catch up or keep ahead. It can be complicated and continually evolving.

Better statistics help understand the situation and trends (or lack of trends), but I think it is also important to look at more than this to get a real picture of the size and scope of the problem.

See also Alison Mau: It’s time to come clean on how big the pay gap really is

The Government’s push to collect data on the gender pay gap might just be the first meaningful step to solve an intractable problem.

Like the five stages of grief, the worldwide discussion on the issue looks to be moving past denial and into anger; although academics and the more savvy business leaders have known for some time that the gap is there and should be nixed (because that makes good business sense) it has taken a series of resignations by high profile media women to bring it sharply into focus for everyone. This is unfortunate and unfair – why should it be the injustices done in ivory towers that get all the ink – but true.

Starting with big businesses makes sense as they’re the ones who employ the bulk of New Zealanders, and can carry out the work without too much cost or disruption. Maybe now’s the time, then. Coupled with whatever Statistics New Zealand comes up with after Minister James Shaw’s directive, we could start seeing a real difference.

Information is power, and right now, what we don’t know is most certainly hurting us.

Better statistics will help, but a comprehensive understanding will need more than that.

 

Leave a comment

27 Comments

  1. David

     /  January 15, 2018

    This is a great problem for the government to focus on because on any measure the problem has been largely fixed and NZ is streaks ahead of most other countries. It will allow an ineffective government to virtue signal without having to actually do something and stuff it up.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  January 15, 2018

      you are talking about Nationals over arcing policy…’kick the can down the road’….let someone else address any issues later…in the meantime…

      Reply
  2. Kevin

     /  January 15, 2018

    When you factor in life-style choices the gender gap disappears.

    Reply
    • I doubt that it disappears, but it certainly needs to be taken into account.

      Reply
      • David

         /  January 15, 2018

        Why do you think it doesn’t disappear exactly? Women, largely, choose careers that are more focused onwork-life balance and not on financial reward and over a working lifetime, women work far less hours than men.

        That is the pay gap. If you want to fix the pay gap, force women into the construction trades and other high risk/high reward industries and force them to work 60 hours a week until they drop dead. Problem solved.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  January 15, 2018

          you know a woman’s place is in the home.As you say it is a privelege for your wife to prepare meals for you and be ready and willing to iron your shirts,should you so desire.But you did buy her a ..watch…you sensitive new age…guy.

          Reply
          • David

             /  January 15, 2018

            “you know a woman’s place is in the home.As you say it is a privelege for your wife to prepare meals for you and be ready and willing to iron your shirts,should you so desire.But you did buy her a ..watch…you sensitive new age…guy.”

            Nice straw man you built there. Did you manage it all by yourself, or did you get some help?

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  January 15, 2018

              David was a …huge..help….is he made of straw?

        • PartisanZ

           /  January 15, 2018

          @David – “If you want to fix the pay gap, force women into the construction trades and other high risk/high reward industries and force them to work 60 hours a week until they drop dead. Problem solved.”

          Wow! That says an awful lot about men’s work doesn’t it? Key word: AWFUL.

          I’m not sure about the “force” part though …. Are men ‘forced’?

          Surely a bunch of relevant questions must be answered, eg: In which pay ranges of the workforce is the gap and/or where is the gap most prominent? For example, there may be little or no gap among large numbers of lowly-paid Warehouse employees?

          Minuscule numbers of highly-paid media presenters hardly constitute an economy-wide trend. They simply grab the media attention like Walmart bosses. Have we heard from any Walmart employees?

          I also agree with Utopia … (I would, wouldn’t I?) … that the data is probably already collected …

          What Aotearoa NZ doesn’t need is another collection of data which we already have about this, another Tax Working Group, more investigation into why young men [baby boys of all ages] commit crime, violence, domestic abuse, substance abuse and kill people in cars … or more “conversations” about whether we need a codified Constitution … all of which is political-bureaucracy kicking the can down the road …

          If you’ve already got the information, the statement “information is power” takes on a whole ‘nother meaning …

          Reply
          • David

             /  January 15, 2018

            “Wow! That says an awful lot about men’s work doesn’t it? Key word: AWFUL.
            I’m not sure about the “force” part though …. Are men ‘forced’?”

            Women do not want to work in construction. We know this because they don’t. It’s a revealed preference.

            Men don’t need to be force to work in construction, they are happy to trade their lives for higher pay.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 15, 2018

              If some people negotiate higher salaries and others don’t, whose fault is that ?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 15, 2018

              In the days when most school heads were men (my mother was a deputy principal of a large school and said that it was all but impossible to MAKE women want the positions of higher responsibility and the higher pay that went with them, as most were married women whose husbands were earning and they didn’t want the extra work, even with the extra money-they didn’t need it) the average life expectancy of a headmaster upon retirement was 18 months.

              I don’t know enough retired headmasters now to know what it is now, but when we looked at those my mother knew….that was about right !

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  January 15, 2018

    It was too early to know exactly how it was going to be measured, Shaw said in a written statement.

    Well, exactly. An earnings gap is not the same as a pay gap. Not sure how the feminists are going to come up with a Gates, Jobs, Buffett, Zuckerberg, Bezos, Hart, Thiel, …

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  January 15, 2018

      If a job is advertised at $–,000 a year, then anyone, masculine, feminine or neuter will be paid that.

      If it’s advertised at $– to**,000 a year, it’s up to the applicant to negotiate that.

      Reply
  4. Not sure where this is leading as Stats NZ publishes plenty of gender stats.

    What more could they do?

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  January 15, 2018

      Are they going to make the life expectancy equal ?

      Enforce equal numbers of women in jobs like construction, furniture removal, rubbish collection, roadmaking and maintenance, sewage work……?

      (cynical larf)

      Reply
    • Mefrostate

       /  January 15, 2018

      Since everyone here is (rightly) raising the importance of education, experience and sorting into roles, it would presumably be beneficial for Stats NZ to publish data on the pay gap within combinations of industry & occupation.

      Reply
  5. Trevors_elbow

     /  January 15, 2018

    Labour and The Greens campaigning already….looking to shore up the female vote by pretending to focus on feminist issues….

    Much talk of a gap but if you stop work to have kids you will in most cases be behind a male of your age and skill levels pay grade…. its pretty simple….

    Reply
  6. Mefrostate

     /  January 15, 2018

    Highly highly recommend every wage gap skeptic read this report by Motu.

    It accounts for differences in productivity between men and women, and finds that women are paid 16% less for the same amount of work as men. This difference goes away in more competitive years, indicative of sex-based discrimination such that firms distribute more of the spoils of war to men than to women in profitable years.

    Reply
  7. PDB

     /  January 15, 2018

    From my experience the reasons for any gender pay gap in the industries I work within (and this pay gap only occurs at the middle-higher levels of management not the lower levels where everybody earns the same) are caused by;

    *Males having more hands-on experience due to having a less interrupted working life through not having to take considerable amounts of time off to raise kids etc.
    *Males being more career/money focused, hence more likely to change jobs for better money & being far more aggressive in asking for pay rises. The majority of women I’ve worked with prefer a far better work/life balance and tend to be more loyal to good employers even if they can get better money elsewhere.
    * A pure numbers game where for the higher-level/responsibility, very stressful but better paying jobs far more men are applying than females.

    Reply

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