Drivers of the gender pay gap

The gender pay gap arises from a complex interplay of societal norms around gender, family and work that is then reflected in workplaces.

Drivers of the gender pay gap include the uneven distribution of unpaid caring and domestic work, a concentration of women in lower-paid occupations and in part-time work, a lack of women in leadership, limited options for flexible work in higher-paid roles, and the undervaluation of work which is largely performed by women.

Gender bias and discrimination also play a significant role. Recent New Zealand research on the nation-wide gender pay gap shows that the gap is mostly driven by hard to see and measure factors, like bias and differences in men’s and women’s choices and behaviours.

Many women experience multiple workplace barriers associated with the combined effects of gender, ethnicity and disability. Māori and Pacific women are more concentrated in lower paid occupations than other women so reducing occupational segregation and appropriately valuing female dominated work will be particularly important for these women. 

Shifting wider societal attitudes around gender, work and family will take time. However, employers have an important role to play. They can and should take action in the short-term to address gender pay gaps in their workplaces to help progress gender equity.

"The clearly defined goals in the Action Plan have focused agencies on achieving change. GWN strongly supports these tangible outcomes and we’re pleased to see progress. We encourage women’s networks to monitor the progress of their agency’s gender pay action plan to help reach these crucial outcomes." 

Ruth Shinoda, Chair, Government Women’s Network l Te Aka Wāhine o Aotearoa


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