Women’s Minister Paula Bennett has today expressed disappointment at the findings of new research which shows bias and perceptions about women in the workplace are what’s driving the Gender Pay Gap.

“The Gender Pay Gap has remained static for a decade now at around 12 per cent. This new research shows that the traditional reasons for women lagging behind, including the types of work they carry out, family responsibilities, education and age are not the main reasons,” Mrs Bennett says.

The research, undertaken by Auckland University of Technology for the Ministry for Women, shows that traditional factors only account for about 20 per cent of the gap. The rest is “unexplained”, which is likely to be perception about behaviour, attitudes, and assumptions about women in work, including bias- both conscious and unconscious.

Over the past decade women have become more educated. Fewer girls than boys leave school without a qualification, they achieve higher in NCEA and 60 per cent of tertiary graduates are women. New Zealand is consistently one of the highest in the OECD for women’s participation in paid work, and more women are working in fields which have previously been dominated by men.

“I engage with businesses all the time and I know employers don’t set out to create a pay gap. They want to treat staff fairly. It would be great to see employers to look at doing a gender pay audit. I’d also encourage them to look at whether women are being promoted into positions they deserve, implementing solutions including rigorous recruitment processes, and clear career progression criteria.

“The Government is leading work to reduce the gender pay gap in the public sector. In November the Government agreed to accept the recommendations of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity, Government also publishes Gender Pay Gap data by department. Through our actions we aim to encourage employers to address the issue in the private sector,” says Mrs Bennett.

“Those doing the hiring and carrying out pay negotiations should know that it’s not about what you can get away with. It’s not about how much she’s willing to accept. It’s about what she’s really worth.”

The full gender pay gap research is available on the Ministry for Women’s website at

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