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of women’s participation in work both across and within occupations. The 2010 report shows that, while New Zealand is assessed as 5th best in the world according to the Global Gender Gap Index 201026 (one international measure of gender parity) other indications of participation are less positive: “…In a number of significant areas, women’s participation has stalled and is sliding backwards. Significantly this is occurring in the state sector which has traditionally been a leader for women’s advancement in public life.”27 The concentration, or lack of concentration, of women in particular occupations, and their positions within occupations, can provide useful information about potential contributors to the gender pay gap. The gender pay gap is an international construct that refers to the average difference in pay of men and women, and is used widely in relation to economies, organizations, occupations. The gender pay gap is determined by calculating women’s average pay as a percentage of men’s, and the pay gap is the difference between this and 100 per cent. For example, if women's pay is 80 per cent of men's, the pay gap is 20 per cent. The gender pay gap construct is used to discuss the historical, and still current, phenomenon that men earn more on average than women and the implications of this imbalance in male and female earnings, of inequality in the labour market.28 There is a debate about the extent to which the gender pay gap is the result of ‘explainable’ factors such as differences in education or choices related to family (e.g., choosing occupations that are more flexible), or because of discrimination. This debate notwithstanding, research into the gender pay gap always concludes that some part of the gender pay gap is explainable and some parts are not. While conclusions about the size of the unexplained part vary, there is agreement that it is at least 20% (see Table 5 and Table 6). Table 5: Factors contributing to the New Zealand gender pay gap (Dixon 2000)





Occupation Industry 20–40%


Unexplained 20–60%

Table 6: The UK pay gap and productivity gap (Walby and Olsen 2002)

Full time Interruptions Part time employment due to family employment Education experience care experience








Discrimination and other factors associated with being female 29%

Hausmann, R., Tyson, L.D., Zahidi, S. (2010). The Global Gender Gap Report 2010, World Economic Forum, p. 13. Human Rights Commission (2010). New Zealand Census of Women’s Participation, p. 2. 28 Gosse, Michelle A. (2000). The Gender Pay Gap in the New Zealand Public Service, Working Paper No. 15, State Services Commission p. 2. 27


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