Stark reality of gender pay gap laid bare in latest statistics

Source: 1News

The stark reality of men and women's earning power has been laid bare in the latest numbers from Stats NZ.

Overall, the national gender pay gap is coming down. In 1998 it was 16.3%, where in 2021 it was 9.1%.

But the gains aren't there for Māori and Pasifika women where the gulf is 14% and 20% respectively.

The pay gap exists at every stage of earning. It's narrower when people enter the workforce but widens once people hit their late twenties.

Over a lifetime, on average a man earns nearly $1 million more than women.

The number of women in the workforce has risen from 54% to 70% in the last 30 years, but women now make up 63% of minimum wage workers.

A new government programme has now been launched aimed at improving employment opportunities for women.

Immediate promises in the plan include improving pay transparency to reduce the gender pay gap, as well as promising to make the labour market more inclusive by focussing more training programmes on women.

"Pay transparency is one level towards bringing down the gender pay gap and we know that while there is a gender pay gap there is work to do in that area," Women's Minister Jan Tinetti said.

More support will also be provided to solo mothers like Kat Kawai, who is leading the way after going from working for a roading company to running one.

"Working on the roads was easy for me. It was something that I was used to, probably having to back myself was the hardest bit," she said.

She now employs 23 people at Tairāwhiti Contractors, seven of them women. With that, she's changing the attitudes of men.

"They're used to having tampons and pads in the vehicles, they're okay with it. Others might find it surprising but our guys are used to it, it's our everyday how we work."

While the plan has many promises, the question is how quickly any of it will be implemented and actually start making a difference to women.

But Tinetti says results won't take long to come by.

"The work is starting right now. We're looking to have results and start seeing results of that probably in 2023."