The State Services Commission has reported the Public Service gender pay gap using average (mean) pay since 2000. This differs to Stats NZ’s approach [1] of using median pay when reporting the gender pay gap for the entire workforce. Median pay is the middle amount of pay earned - half of employees earn less and half earn more. Median pay better reflects the pay a typical employee receives. On the other hand, mean pay better reflects employees with very low or very high pay and the fact that women are overrepresented in the low paid groups and underrepresented in high paid groups.

In 2019, the Public Service gender pay gap using median pay was 6.2%, a large fall from 10.7% in 2018. The following factors have driven the substantial fall in the gender pay gap over the past year:

  • There have been two pay equity settlements that affect relatively large Public Service workforces, social workers at Oranga Tamariki and Ministry of Education support workers (who support children in early childhood and primary schools with learning and behavioural challenges). These workforces are female dominated.
  • As part of the Public Service’s commitment to the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan, departments have been:
    • steadily increasing the number of women in senior leadership roles. This is shown both by the record high female share of senior leaders (49.6%), and the fall in the gender pay gap for senior leaders (down from 7.4% in 2018 to 4.7% in 2019). At the chief executive level, female chief executives are now leading larger organisations than previously
    • reviewing the salaries of their employees in the same or similar roles to ensure that an employee’s gender is not adversely affecting their salaries. This has resulted in salary corrections for some employees, with more women than men overall needing salary corrections.
  • In the last year pay adjustments were made to ensure all Public Service employees were receiving the 2018 Living Wage. In addition, the Government Expectations on State Sector Employment Relations include an expectation that agencies will reduce the gap between their highest and lowest earners.Some agencies have responded to this by lifting the salaries of their lowest paid employees, who are more likely to be women.

The gender pay gap using median pay for the entire workforce, as reported by Stats NZ, was 9.3% (9.2% in 2018). The graph below shows:

  • how the gender pay gap measured using median salaries have declined over time for both Public Service (down from 16.7% in 2000) and the overall New Zealand workforce (down from 14.0% in 2000)
  • that the Public Service gender pay gap has dropped substantially below the New Zealand workforce gender pay gap.

Note that the Public Service gender pay gap using median pay is more volatile over time than that using mean pay. The structured nature of pay for many parts of the Public Service workforce, with large numbers of employees receiving the same pay, are driving this volatility in gender pay gaps using median pay.

[1] Stats NZ (2014). Measuring the gender pay gap. Available from

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