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Gender Pay Gap: Average Wage Graph telling

Written By: - Date published: 10:38 am, January 15th, 2016 - 76 comments
Categories: wages - Tags:


Now maybe it’s because I’m a bloke, but looking at this graph I couldn’t help but think: wouldn’t it be better to close the pay gap for women by increasing their wages rather than decreasing men’s?

Women’s wages have actually gone up slightly since 1990 (no thanks to National, there’s quite a significant net fall under them), but not by as much as men’s have fallen.


Productivity has increased massively in that time, so there can be none of this “wages can only increase with productivity” argument.  Labour doesn’t look fabulous on men’s wages, but at least they arrested the decline under National, and had a healthy improvement in women’s wages.

Looking at the Herald‘s infographic, certain categories of work (including “recreation”, which I’m guessing all those Tourism jobs the government’s excited about come under) have women’s wages falling – and men’s far worse.  And brace yourself before you look at retail or accommodation & food services – they’re just scary.  Certain categories like Professional & Scientific and ICT that you’d expect wages to be rising have fallen significantly, and while in Health & Social service men’s wages have actually risen – women’s have dropped, increasing the yawning chasm.  The only category where workers have had a massive increase in wages?  Financial & Insurance.

Anyway, it all seems like more evidence we need a change in our system, as wages fall and return to the capitalists increases.  More trade union power, not less, as we need someone to fight for worker’s wages & conditions.

Thanks to the Herald for their excellent coverage of the pay gap yesterday…

76 comments on “Gender Pay Gap: Average Wage Graph telling”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    Productivity has increased massively in that time, so there can be none of this “wages can only increase with productivity” argument.

    Anybody capable of actually thinking would realise that an increase in productivity must result in a decrease in wages. For the same amount of product less people are needed and so wages must decrease.

    The logical thing to do is to take those freed up workers and put them into new industry and use that to maintain wages at the same level.

    And, no, exports won’t help as the countries that we export to will develop their own capability over time and thus not need, nor want, our exports.

    International trade is part of the delusion that is our present socio-economic system.

    Certain categories like Professional & Scientific and ICT that you’d expect wages to be rising have fallen significantly

    Well, I suppose some people would have expected them to rise, I always expected them to fall due to hundreds of millions of people getting better educated and thus being able to do the same work but in countries where labour costs far less.

    Free-trade and increasing productivity lowers wages. The problem is the system and we need to change it.

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 1.1

      Not sure about the productivity comment (“increase in productivity must result in a decrease in wages”)

      Increasing productivity could increase wages, if the employees received a good share of the productivity increase. Obviously the problem is that they generally don’t, but the workplace owners take the productivity increase for themselves.

      One of the great lies of the Nats is that increasing productivity is the key to increasing wealth for all – when examination of the numbers shows that this seems small, compared to bad distribution. If your CEO is paid 200x what you are…is it easier to increase your productivity by 200%, or for your CEO to be paid only 199x what you are? Either method could double your pay.

      Of course if you increase your productivity by 200%, you will probably only get to keep 5% of that, while someone who already has millions gets the rest.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        Increasing productivity could increase wages, if the employees received a good share of the productivity increase.


        Say you have a business producing widgets that employees 10 people. An increase of 10% while demand remains the same means that two things need to happen. The first being that 1 person is out of a job and the second is that prices of widgets needs to drop 10%.

        Why does the price need to drop 10%? So that the person made unemployed can be employed to do something else.

        Of course, what actually happens is that the person loses their job and the prices remain the same allowing for higher profit for the shareholders of the business. The effect of this is increasing unemployment and poverty.

        And, yes, we’ll now get people in claiming that the economy isn’t a zero-sum game despite the fact that it actually is. We really do have limited resources available at any one point in time.

        • UncookedSelachimorpha

          I’m no economist, and I agree things are often a zero-sum game.

          But it also seems that productivity gains still produce an increase in available wealth. In your example, we have the original 10 people:

          9 producing the same quantity of widgets
          + redundant person #10 now producing ‘something else’
          = more stuff from same people

          If the increased supply depresses price because of static demand, giving no benefit to the widget producers, there is still a beneficiary of the productivity increase (the people buying the cheaper widgets).

          So the question remains, who has the power to control the split of the new-found productivity loot? Seem to be three potential winners – the employees, consumers or owners. Unfortunately #3 on this list is getting the lion’s share at the moment.

          Speaking as an employee of a company owned by a couple of multi-billionaires who inherited it all from daddy!

          • crashcart

            The failure in your logic is that there are two markets at work here. There is the market for the widgets and the market for the labour.

            The market for the labour is what determines the wages. Increasing productivity reduces demand for the labour. However the supply of labour has remained the same. Therefore according to market theory the cost of labour must decrease. This simple fact shows that an increase in productivity will lead to a decrease in wages.

  2. greywarshark 2

    Chris Trotter has done a piece looking at Denmark and how their policies have kept wages and conditions at a reasonable level. Unionism is one factor – Denmarks’s rate is out of sight compared to NZ.

    As the official Danish website puts it: “The development of the labour market owes much to the Danish collective bargaining model, which has ensured extensive worker protection while taking changing production and market conditions into account. The organisation rate for workers in Denmark is approx. 75%.”
    The organisation rate for New Zealand workers in 2014 was approx. 19%.

    And look at what realistic thoughtful intelligent drama they are getting on their screens compared to the mostly pap that we have. Says much about the decline in the discourse about NZ and the inability of the polity to grasp the situation and change the downward slide from a modern, high-standard, high-functioning society leading to the drop in business acumen and worker conditions that has carried wages lower.

    The Fictional Realm: Borgen’s prime-ministerial heroine Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen) is consoled by her Machiavellian spin-doctor Kasper Juul (Pilou Asbaek) in the award-winning drama series from Danish public television. Until very recently one of the world’s most progressive states (its current immigration reforms are insupportable!) Denmark is able to run active labour market policies such as “flexicurity” only because the Danish working-class still enjoys effective representation in the country’s political system. Would it were so in New Zealand!

    Chris’s conclusion: ‘Borgen’s politics are rational because the balance of social forces in Denmark obliges its politicians to behave reasonably. Labour’s policies of 30 years ago predetermined the future of work in New Zealand: flexibility without security.’

  3. TeWhareWhero 3

    Women fight for parity in pay and employment conditions but instead of pulling them up to close the gap, men’s pay and employment conditions are lowered. Just like they did with the retirement age – equality employment opportunities cannot possibly mean improving things for everyone so women got to work another 5 years before retirement – and still without pay parity. And we still haven’t managed to get employers to get their heads around equal pay for work of equal value but if they ever do no doubt they’ll find some way to ensure that means the pay and conditions of (some) men will be brought down – not women’s raised up.

    • David 3.1

      “And we still haven’t managed to get employers to get their heads around equal pay for work of equal value”

      Nobody has their head around it because no one is going to agree on what ‘equal value’ actually means.

      • greywarshark 3.1.1

        You wouldn’t even want to try. Too hard for you – it would screw your head around so you were facing your back!

      • Sabine 3.1.2

        I used to work in an office of a multinational corporation of Sports fame in europe. The German Team was employed at the same time, we all worked the same shif, we have the same accounts, the same customer called us, and we all had the same job title. But one day i find out that the lone male made 5 grand more a year then i or any of the other female staff do. In fact to make matters worse, the one lone female that was not Caucasian gets paid 4 grand less then i do. When confronted, Management tries to weasel itself out of a pickle with the pointing to ‘negotiated wages’, until again pointed out by staff non of our wages were negotiated they were proposed on a take the job or leave the job basis. At that stage the non Caucasian staff member has her wages increased to reflect that of the other females cause the soft question of ‘racism’ did not go down well with the US American HR Team, however is still 5 grand short of the wages to the lone guy in the team. The response to that was that he has a family to support, to which i answered that us Ladies also supported our families, we did not work for pin money, and once pointed out that one would call this “sexism and gender discrimination” we had our wages upped.

        This happened in 98, in large multinational progressive company in the middle of europe in a country most would considered conservative yet progressive. The corporation we worked for was US American based, and most anyone who watches sports knows the brand.

        This is equal work in a nutshell, same title, same office, same team leader, same manager, same accountability, same privileges, same KPI’s and yet men in many many cases are still paid more.
        That is equal value, and it still is today.

        But most importantly consider that every time your wife brings -15% give or take a few % less wages home than her male colleagues doing the same job, she is shortchanged, and so is her family. Over her working lifetime this could easily amount to a decent bit of cash. But I am sure you will have no issues explaining to her and your daughter or daughter in law or your female grandchild that her work needs to be of ‘equal value’ and that defining that ‘equal value’ is obviously too hard, and thus of course her male counterpart deserves more money. Cause Logic. 🙂

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.3

        Only the really, really stupid have difficulty in understanding that the same job should get the same pay.

        • Sabine

          They are not stupid, they are cynical and in most cases have never once thought about the fact that if their wife is working, she is not pulling her full weight due to institutionalized gender discrimination.

          And that makes sense with the jobs where men lost their earning power such as the teaching profession. After all if a women can do the job cheaper why would a man be paid more or even worse why would a man be hired. Remember secretary before the times of the typewriter was a male dominated profession, but with the typing machine became a lower paid female job (cause their hands are more suited to typing 🙂 )
          Take that to the extreme of yesteryear and we could start seeing jobs being done by kids cause they of course would be cheaper then their parents cause kid status.

          in all these years that i have followed these discussions, not once have I heard a man say that they are sick and tired of seeing ‘their’ women be short changed and as a consequence have their families short changed.

          Oh well…..what can i say, i am a mere women and should not worry my pretty head about things that I will never change. Surely a godly righteous man one day will come and save the day and pay for all of us.

          • Liberal Realist

            “in all these years that i have followed these discussions, not once have I heard a man say that they are sick and tired of seeing ‘their’ women be short changed and as a consequence have their families short changed.”

            I am male and am more that sick and tired of the fact that women, in general, are paid less than men to do the same job. I’m angry! Everyone should be!

        • weka

          I think David is talking about different jobs of similar value rather than two identical jobs.

          • Tracey

            Maybe, but it is still only a difficult concept for those not prepared to think a smidge deeper.

            I grew up at a time when women’s sport was regarded as more of a joke than it is today. Women’s everything really. But in sport, the men I grew up around didn’t give a shit about discrepancies and unfairnesses toward female athletes. Until they had a daughter. For some people it takes a very direct self interest to be able to “see” what others can see without it

            • weka

              I don’t actually know how pay equity gets assessed (equal value on different jobs) so I thought his comment was not unreasonable. Interesting that so many people assume he supports the status quo (which he may).

              snap, http://thestandard.org.nz/gender-pay-gap-average-wage-graph-telling/#comment-1118826

              • Generally you compare positions with similar levels of responsibility and required skills. (eg. an administrator is generally an administrator, regardless of what industry they’re in or what gender they are- but the position started getting paid a lot less when it shifted from being dominated by men to being dominated by women) A lot of the problem on top of the -12-15% differential is down to professions that women work in more often being devalued in addition to those unexplained differences in pay.

                This is one of the reasons why you want a proper performance assessment and remuneration system set up, so that unconscious bias leaks in as little as possible.

                • weka

                  How about something like nursing, which is traditionally women? What would it be compared too?

                  Or truck driving which is traditionally men?

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    The Bartlett decision (pdf) discusses this particular point in some detail. Worth a read.

                    One point they make is that comparisons can be made with jobs that are “uninfected by gender discrimination…to which a similar value can be attributed using gender-neutral criteria.”

                    (side note: it also has the employers’ pleading that things were a lot easier before the employment contracts act. Perhaps they should stop buying tables at Cabinet Club 😈 )

                • Descendant Of Sssmith

                  Yeah but the notion of responsibility and skill is heavily biased.

                  Some of you may remember this work done a few years back.


                  “In this report the New Economics Foundation (NEF) takes a new approach to looking at the value of work. We go beyond how much different professions are paid to look at what they contribute to society. We use some of the principles and valuation techniques of Social Return on Investment analysis to quantify the social, environmental and economic value that these roles produce – or in some cases undermine.

                  Our report tells the story of six different jobs. We have chosen jobs from across the private and public sectors and deliberately chosen ones that illustrate the problem. Three are low paid – a hospital cleaner, a recycling plant worker and a childcare worker. The others are highly paid – a City banker, an advertising executive and a tax accountant. We recognise that our incentives are created by the institutions and systems around us. It is not our intention therefore, to target the individuals that do these jobs but rather to examine the professions themselves.”

                  I know the work my wife does is heaps more demanding (psychologically especially) than most jobs and is much less well paid than most.

                  It’s why few do it and many burn out. She has more tertiary qualifications than myself and takes regular breaks of months to years from the work to refresh and re-charge. She does the work for a third of what I get paid but does it because it’s a passion.

                  The thing is though that this type of work got paid much better when it was carried out by the state and before it was privatised. I remember a DHB accountant (an honorable and brave accountant) saying repeatedly to the board, and I understand on several occasions to various Ministers, that many of the women doing this work were being taken advantage of. Many were doing unpaid hours, they were traveling in their own time and in their own vehicles with little reimbursement and so on.

                  This scenario raises several aspects:

                  1. These wage rate differentials aren’t unknown and they are not there by accident. They are well known at executive levels and government levels and are there on purpose.
                  2. Profit is a dead weight and privatisation of core public business needs to be reversed in order to increase wages for these roles. Putting more money into these organisations will only see more profit taken out.
                  3. Female roles which are seen to have more of a care-giving function in society are deliberately paid less. Men who do these roles are often seen as odd or strange.
                  4. Centralised wage bargaining across enterprises eg all electricians, and across the public sector was a key factor in the past to ensure parity and to prevent a race to the lowest wage point. I understand nurses used to get paid the same as police – now they get paid considerably less. The political priority on one side and the political power of the organisation on the other influences much more than the value of the work.

                  • RedLogix

                    I like that analysis DSS. There is always a downward pressure on wages and salaries … but my contention is that in general women have been more tolerant of it because historically they have not been the primary income earner in the household.

                    It’s also true that relatively few households function well when both partners are committed to stressful, demanding careers at the same time. There just isn’t enough time or emotional energy left over for family.

                    Women have the option of two strategies, either to partner with a male (excuse the hetro-normative assumption) who earns more than they do, or strike out on their own. It’s sometimes called the ‘baby or briefcase’ dilemma.

                    Conversely given that males do not generally enjoy this choice, which creates a social pressure on men to perform. Women in general still strongly prefer a male partner who earns more than them if at all possible.

                    In an environment where there is a downward pressure on wages in general (recall John Key’s infamous “I would like to see wages drop” comment that’s been lost in the mist of time) then it’s not terribly surprising that the component of the workforce most tolerant of lower wages (or with more options), is the one that loses out.

                    • Descendant Of Sssmith

                      In many women’s live they’d have to work bloody hard to find a male who got paid less than them.

                      I’m not so sure it as simple as a preference – it’s pretty normative.

                      I don’t necessarily agree with people about equal pay for same job. I actually don’t have any problem with someone who might have a family to support or a disabled child to care for getting paid more than me by my employer.

                      This was quite normal in the past and often built into pay rates and so on. No one seemed to mind – employee or employer.

                      I think work has become relegated to an individual contribution rather than a societal – when raising and supporting a family is valued by society as a whole one hopes there’s a variety of solutions. Fixing on one – equal pay – doesn’t necessarily bring equity.

                      View post on imgur.com

                      Policies such as income splitting where partners earned less than say $12,000 were in the past useful as was universal family benefit.

                      Free meals in all schools is another notion that is universal and would take pressure off family incomes.

                      I do think there were some quite enlightened policies from the past that can be used – ultimately it’s about ensuring there’s a sufficient level of income for a family to be raised.

                      Somewhere though the other side of the equation which is equity of expenditure also needs to be looked at – the large differentials in rents and housing costs can almost make the point about equal incomes irrelevant.

                    • RedLogix

                      I’m not so sure it as simple as a preference

                      Virtually every search I’ve done on the topic reveals similar answers to this:


                      This was quite normal in the past and often built into pay rates and so on. No one seemed to mind – employee or employer.

                      I recall my father talking about “married mans” rates. In his time it was normal that once a man was married his pay rate was automatically incremented by 20% or so in recognition of his extra responsibilities. I’m not saying this would be a good fit in the modern era, but it’s the kind of thing you are talking about.

                      I’m just not sure there is a root cause of this gender income gap that is amenable to an easy ‘fix’. Personally I see gender neutral tools such as Universal Income, Universal Child Benefit and protected maternity and paternity leave as significantly more useful and broadly effective.

                      (Incidentally the usual UI scheme implemented with a flat income tax removes the need for tax splitting.)

          • Sabine

            the point is that even in jobs that are identical the pay differences between man and women and between different races are staggering. And one needs not to be a rocket scientist to say this is wrong and should be illegal. But still it happens.

            I don’t want to go and discuss different jobs of equal value when we can’t even get man and some women to accept that if the job is the same the pay should be the same. And if it needs legislation to do so it should be done.

            As it is now, man need to understand that their wages are going down in large part because of gender discrimination across the board and race discrimination.

            Only when men start standing up for the women in their lifes will these things change. As long as the ‘Gender wars’ are good for political scoring (and our current National Party led Goverment has been really good at defining which Gender can be taken to the dry cleaners for shits n giggles) and as long as Men believe that women should inherently be paid less cause wimminz, nothing is going to change. Only when men decide that the money a women does not make is money their family is not getting and that that is worth a fight will things change.

          • David

            “I think David is talking about different jobs of similar value rather than two identical jobs.”

            Correct. Judging what is ‘similar value’ is entirely subjective.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              You can’t think of any ways to draw comparisons?

              Let’s all pause for a moment in sympathy.

            • sabine

              alright lets try this
              courier driver female
              taxi driver male

              would that be equal enough to legislate that drivers that deliver people and packages should get the same wage?
              Or do we want to say that the man should be earning higher wages as he drives people?
              but maybe the women should earn more money as she is under pressure delivering stuff to businesses and people?

              Or maybe they both should earn the same, as essentially all they do is drive a vehicle through traffic all day.

              But yes, i guess if we can never define what is equal work we never have to pay equal wages, much like what is happening now.

              So pray tell David, what would you think would be equal value? Maybe the butcher and the trauma nurse would be equal value? they both have a lot of blood on their hands at the end of their working shifts? 🙂

              How do you want to define equal work? And in that case, how come that no matter what ‘women roles’ are they somehow never have an equal value to that of any of the ‘male roles’ and are thus paid on the lower scale of the income curve, and thus result in women saving less for retirements, buying less house, ending up in poverty at old age, often raising their children with only a minimum wage income etc etc etc. Or is the childcare that the women provides for free to her husband and society worse equal nothing?

              • David

                “How do you want to define equal work? ”

                I would not even try, I think it’s impossible to achieve a definition that is worthwhile.

                “And in that case, how come that no matter what ‘women roles’ are they somehow never have an equal value to that of any of the ‘male roles’ and are thus paid on the lower scale of the income curve, and thus result in women saving less for retirements, buying less house, ending up in poverty at old age, often raising their children with only a minimum wage income etc etc etc.”

                Well, that’s easy. Women simply put a higher value on non-financial rewards than men do.

                “Or is the childcare that the women provides for free to her husband and society worse equal nothing?”

                What makes you think it’s free?

                • Lara

                  “Well, that’s easy. Women simply put a higher value on non-financial rewards than men do.”


                  Back up there dude.

                  No. Just… f***ing NO.

                  So sick of men telling women what we think and feel.

                  When I’m working alongside others I damn well expect to be paid the same.

                  If I’m in a job which has a certain level of education, skill, experience and responsibility then I damn well want to be paid the same as a man doing an equivalent job.

                  And if I have children to support then I damn well expect their father to shoulder an equal level of responsibility for his children. Equal amount of running around dropping kids to and from school, staying home with them when they’re sick… equal. Fully equal. Because we’re BOTH parents.

                  But it’s not like that is it.

                  When women get pregnant (or even if we’re just in the age bracket where we could get pregnant) or if we already have kids we’re put in the “she’ll take time off work to look after her kids” basket. While it’s generally assumed that if men have kids (and thats even if they’re asked) they have a family to support and so they need more money and they’ll be more reliable.

                  Because its assumed that women will do the majority of parenting in terms of time which may affect their jobs.

                  Because the personal is political.

                  I put a very high value on how much money I’m paid. As much as any man. Don’t speak for me.

                  And for many parents who stay together and raise children it is more often the woman who gives up paid work to look after those children. The couple don’t pay money directly for her work, it is unpaid, and she’s doing it “for free”. The majority of the cost is to her (she doesn’t earn money, doesn’t save for retirement and it affects her career) and much of the benefit is to her partner (he gets someone to look after his kids and he doesn’t have to pay directly for it, she supports his paid work).

                  That’s what we mean by “it’s free”.

                  • David

                    Back up there dude.
                    No. Just… f***ing NO.
                    So sick of men telling women what we think and feel.”

                    Where did you get this exactly? It’s what women are telling us, it’s a revealed preference.

                    “If I’m in a job which has a certain level of education, skill, experience and responsibility then I damn well want to be paid the same as a man doing an equivalent job.”

                    What is an equivalent job?

                    “And for many parents who stay together and raise children it is more often the woman who gives up paid work to look after those children. The couple don’t pay money directly for her work, it is unpaid, and she’s doing it “for free”. The majority of the cost is to her (she doesn’t earn money, doesn’t save for retirement and it affects her career) and much of the benefit is to her partner (he gets someone to look after his kids and he doesn’t have to pay directly for it, she supports his paid work).

                    That’s what we mean by “it’s free”.”

                    Look, if you want to reduce it to purely a transactional arrangement then doesn’t the women get room and board? Do you expect cash payments or something? You don’t seem to factor the benefits either, is there nothing a women gains from childcare? If not, why do they do it?

                    • Huginn

                      Hi David

                      A market mechanism won’t work to yield an optimal outcome if there is distortion from systematic bias.

                      Gender discrimination is one such bias.

                      An example for you: why is economics dominated by men?

                      Turns out that when women coauthor with men, their contribution counts for very little. That’s a major reason why women aren’t getting tenured jobs in economics departments, why they end up getting paid less over time in jobs with little security.

                      You might want to think about that next time a male economist explains away the pay gap between men and women as being about women expressing their market preferences by settling for non-monetary reward.

                      Here’s the reference:

                    • Lara

                      “It’s what women are telling us, it’s a revealed preference.”

                      Evidence? Only your assertion.

                      And not a preference for this woman. And a “revealed preference” for what reason? Probably necessity because they’re mothers. And because the majority of the responsibility of childcare falls on mothers, not fathers.

                      And equivalent job is exactly how I outlined. It’s not a difficult concept to understand.

                      Parenting is not a transactional arrangement and I never said it should be. I’m simply pointing out how becoming parents impacts women more negatively financially long term than it does men. It is women who more often take time from careers, who do the unpaid work and who have jobs impacted more than men.

                      Women may get “room and board” but please. They don’t get paid for their work. While fathers more often continue to earn money in their names. And save for retirement in their names. And continue uninterrupted careers.

                      Luckily for all of us women continue to make sacrifices for their children. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the next generation to care for us in our old age.

                      And if you don’t know that the reason we do it is for love then you have problems I cannot help with.

                    • David

                      “An example for you: why is economics dominated by men?”

                      I don’t know, perhaps because women don’t find economics very interesting?

                    • David

                      ““It’s what women are telling us, it’s a revealed preference.”
                      Evidence? Only your assertion.”

                      The evidence is everywhere, that’s what a revealed preference is. The fact that so many women choose to go into teaching and nursing knowing that they are not particularly well paid, rather than engineering does tell you a preference. The fact that very few women take on well paid jobs that involve personal danger and long periods of time away from home also tells you this.

                      “And equivalent job is exactly how I outlined. It’s not a difficult concept to understand.”

                      Yes it is, it’s almost impossible to understand. It’s an almost entirely subjective concept. Is a teacher an equivalent job to a banker? How do you define the measurement?

                      “Parenting is not a transactional arrangement and I never said it should be. I’m simply pointing out how becoming parents impacts women more negatively financially long term than it does men. It is women who more often take time from careers, who do the unpaid work and who have jobs impacted more than men.
                      Women may get “room and board” but please. They don’t get paid for their work. While fathers more often continue to earn money in their names. And save for retirement in their names. And continue uninterrupted careers.”

                      Of course child rearing impacts women’s careers more than men’s, that is the source of the pay gap. If you don’t want that, don’t have children.

                      “And if you don’t know that the reason we do it is for love then you have problems I cannot help with.”

                      This was my whole fucking point! Women do it for the non-financial reward.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      What is an equivalent job?

                      The paucity of poor David’s feeble imagination notwithstanding, the International Labour Organisation provides substantial resources and information to help employers and governments get their remuneration sums right.

                      I suggest David reads them to help address his ignorance on the topic, and I’m picking he’ll fail.

                    • David

                      “The paucity of poor David’s feeble imagination notwithstanding, the International Labour Organisation provides substantial resources and information to help employers and governments get their remuneration sums right.

                      I suggest David reads them to help address his ignorance on the topic, and I’m picking he’ll fail.”

                      Well, that is interesting. Just how many private sector employers do you think use the ILO to set wages?

                      Is there a nice table showing what jobs are equal and need the same pay, or is it a more involved process?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      David failed as expected. The link to the ILO demonstrated that his whining about how impossible the problem is was utterly without foundation. A simple Google search for “remuneration management” produces more links than you can shake a stick at. Impossible if you’re useless and lazy I guess.

                      On a side note, the Bartlett decision points out that exactly the same arguments David employs were used to oppose the abolition of slavery.

                      Poor David.

                    • Huginn

                      David: ‘I don’t know, perhaps because women don’t find economics very interesting?’

                      You’re making stuff up, David. Look at the stats.

                      Did you not notice that half your undergrad economics classes were women – or did you just not get through Econ 100. No shame in that, David – Roger Douglas failed stage one economics too.

                      Here’s a Ladybird version of Garson’s findings.


                    • Lara

                      “The evidence is everywhere, that’s what a revealed preference is.”

                      Oh FFS!!!

                      We do it because we HAVE TO!

                      Your assertion was that women put a higher value on non financial rewards than men do. And I am fucking telling you it is because we HAVE TO. Because overall (not all, but a great many) men when they become fathers do not take as much responsibility for their children as women do. Evidence? Most single parent families are headed by women.

                      It is a result of necessity. Not entirely free choice. To put it into your frame of reference David.

                      And fucking STOP telling women what we prefer. You have no idea why the results are what they are. You have no idea if they are by total free choice. And I’m telling you they’re most likely NOT.

                      “This was my whole fucking point! Women do it for the non-financial reward.”

                      Yes. And you seem to think that it is okay that we should be penalised for it.

                      “Of course child rearing impacts women’s careers more than men’s, that is the source of the pay gap. If you don’t want that, don’t have children.”

                      That is NOT the entire source of the pay gap. There is plenty of research which finds differences in pay between men and women that cannot be explained by parenting responsibilities. But actually I don’t expect you to click on that link, nor to read it, nor to understand it, and most especially not to realise that your narrow blinkered view may be wrong.

                      And this is the thing David. Even if parenting responsibilities are the full source of ALL the gap in pay between genders then it is still unfair and penalises women who get divorced after having children (and I bet you think alimony for women who were STAHM’s is an evil thing), and it penalises them in retirement (earn less $$, get less in retirement).

                      Because it takes a mother AND a father to create a baby. They are BOTH responsible. But to date with our economic structure it is women who bear the major burden of cost and responsibility.

                      It’s not a solution for women to stop having children. You can’t write us all off by saying it’s “our choice”.

                      Because if we stopped where would you be when you are dribbling in your shirt and shitting your pants at 90 something? Without a human being to wipe your arse and chin?

                      That human being came from somewhere. That human being represents the fucking UNPAID work, often a lifetime of work! probably most likely of a woman.

                      You’re welcome.

                    • RedLogix


                      I’m genuinely curious; if you regard parenting (and supporting wider family life) as UNPAID work … do you think people should be paid for it?

                      Because elsewhere you reject the idea of parenting as a financial transaction, yet you persist in implying that it is work, and therefore it should be paid. I can’t honestly see how you can reconcile both statements.

                      Because people do all manner of things in life they don’t get paid for, whether it is something they actively choose or not.

                      You bleat loudly that women have no choice to be mothers as if this was an onerous and horrid burden, yet millions of women unable to have children (my partner included) silently grieve the opportunity was stolen from them.

                      I note also that like many women, while you hold both parents responsible for supporting their children, you totally erase the contribution that most fathers also contribute to supporting their families. Most fathers DO commit to working hard and sacrifice every bit as much as the mother. And most of the paid income they earn goes straight into supporting their family. And most quietly accept they have no choice but to gladly accept this responsibility.

                  • …he gets someone to look after his kids and he doesn’t have to pay directly for it, she supports his paid work…

                    They have these things now called joint bank accounts, in which the money in them isn’t “his” money or “her” money, it’s “their” money. Saves any ludicrous discussions about who’s paying one parent to stay home with the kids, should one of them choose to do so.

                    • Lara

                      And that entirely depends on how each couple arrange their affairs.

                      The money is still earned in the name of the person who does the paid work, not in both.

                      Not all couples share evenly.

                      And any contributions to retirement savings are still most often suspended for the non earning parent. Which impacts women much more than it impacts men.

                      And it is women who take the time out from careers more than men to do this unpaid work.

                • Huginn

                  David ‘Well, that’s easy. Women simply put a higher value on non-financial rewards than men do’


                  • RedLogix

                    By framing child-rearing and family care as “unpaid work” it isn’t clear whether it is being framed as transaction which is being short-changed, or whether its something people do because they love to do it, paid or otherwise.

                    For instance I love being in the outdoors and tramping in the NZ mountains. It’s not always fun, sometimes damn dangerous and almost always bloody hard work. But I’d not in a million years suggest someone should pay me for it.

                    Besides reducing family life to a mere financial transaction, immediately raises awkward questions about exactly who should be charging who for exactly what services. And what the ‘market rate’ for them might be.

                    Traditionally it was the family unit which shared the labour of external economic inputs and direct family care between male and female. From an evolutionary perspective it’s been a pretty effective arrangement that confers a survival advantage to most offspring. But evolution doesn’t care about individuals once they have reproduced, and is always harshest on those past child-rearing age.

                    While stable family life can mitigate this, the problem and plight of ‘widows’ is an ancient one. It is why universal superannuation was such a massive leap forward, albeit for most people, a barely adequate answer.

                    There are no easy answers here. You might find this an interesting read:

                    Click to access 09e41505ba96f2db56000000.pdf

                    It starts out a bit dry, but is actually quite thought provoking even if you don’t want to agree with the conclusions.

      • Rosemary McDonald 3.1.4

        David….the values are set by those who set the pay.

        For instance…those who administrate in the health system are more “valued” than those who provide the actual hands on health care.




      • Tracey 3.1.5

        I am pretty sure the only people who struggle with understanding the concept is white men in well paid jobs with power to allocate wage/salary rates who still think that white men are just born naturally better at high paying jobs than women or people with skin that is not white.

        It sounds quite silly when you read it out loud David

      • Puddleglum 3.1.6

        Hi David,

        Fine, except for the fact that, evidently, we are able to institute unequal pay based on estimations of unequal value despite the fact that no-one can agree on what ‘un-equal value’ actually means.

        Or do you think ‘the market’ is the only ‘fair’ means of allocating (exchange) value?

        • David

          If you don’t use a market, what do you use?

          A committee?
          Vote for what wages should be paid?
          A lottery perhaps?
          Everyone earns identical pay regardless?

          Which one other than a market has ever worked?

          • weka

            What’s wrong with using those things? We already use various mechanisms to determine wages eg legislating minimum rates.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            The market always works, except when it fails. That’s called “market failure”. Have you ever heard of it?

            What part of voting for a party that promises to legislate for a higher minimum wage isn’t an example of “market forces” at work? Assuming the market exists in the “real world” that is 🙄

          • Draco T Bastard

            Can’t say that there’s evidence that the market works. If it did there wouldn’t be any poverty.

          • D'Esterre

            David: “If you don’t use a market, what do you use?”
            Higher Salaries Commission, eg?

          • Liberal Realist

            What about collective agreements? Oh that’s right, our right wing politicians have all but gotten rid of collective bargaining.

            Strong unions with appropriate legislation would go some way to address the imbalance.

            The bigger problem is the cultural shift that is required. New Zealanders need to lift their collective heads out of the sand (or John Key’s arse) and demand equality and equity in employment relationships. Penalties for any breach need to be harsh, so to make the cost to business so high they’ll bend over backward to ensure it never happens. Unfortunately right wing neoliberalism (and Nationals brand of thuggery) is fundamentally incompatible with these values.

            Change will only ever occur if truth is spoken to power, loudly everyday, from every corner of the country, by the majority.

            • David

              “What about collective agreements?”

              Collective bargaining is still a market, just one where the market is narrowed. Understandable when there is only one, or few employers and you need to balance the power,

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Power is always in need of balance. Collective bargaining is essential no matter how many employers there are.

                I don’t expect you to understand that.

          • Rosemary McDonald

            “If you don’t use a market, what do you use?”

            A bloody great big sledgehammer, perhaps, to drive home the message that more often than not the lowest paid jobs are the ones that in the dim dark past were considered the duty of women, or work for slaves or indentured labourers.

            In the dim dark past, of course, one wage was usually ample to maintain a reasonably large nuclear family.

            That is definitely not the case today…in the 21st century.

            Ironically, these low paid jobs are the ones that if not done satisfactorily, would cause the largest disruption to the average privileged pricks life.

          • Psycho Milt

            If you don’t use a market, what do you use?

            At my work, they use a job evaluation system. It works fine until the market bites you on the arse. As an example, the job evaluation system finds that IT staff and library staff are doing work of equal complexity, so are “equal work of equal value.” So they get the same pay grades. Of course, the private sector has an insatiable demand for IT staff and close to zero demand for librarians, so the nett outcome is that the University can’t hang on to experienced IT staff, but is constantly dishing out long-service leave to librarians who know a good thing when they see it. Pretending there is no market for skills is futile.

            • sabine

              librarians that know a good thing when they see it,(wow, what a statement)
              = women – as more often then not women are the people that staff libraries, so that you and anyone else can go at a convenient time and get a book, or maybe do some research, or run a course, or help with a computer issue or such and such and such.

              IT staff that finds itself subject to an insatiable demand = man – as more often then women are not part of the tech world (which is full of its own gender issues). However, please be aware that there are many many well educated IT people of all genders are coming in from various other places of the planet who may for various other reasons are very happy to work for less wages than yourself, and that the demand is very soon satisfied then, and your wage will have gone down or simply just never started or continued to go up, but then people will still need a good librarian.

              seriously. don’t you like librarians?

              • I’m one of the librarians. And a lot of the IT staff are women. That wasn’t what the comment was about.

                Who you like or don’t like doesn’t come into it. It’s a simple fact that some skills are in more demand than others and smart employers will pay more for those skills.

                • sabine

                  I am sorry but that was how it read to me. And i have heard the same said in the exact way as i read it.

                  So i am sorry if I misunderstood you.

  4. RedLogix 4

    I’ll start by stating that I have always expected that anyone working alongside me in the same role … regardless of gender, race or any factor not related to the job … will be paid the at the same as me for the same hours worked.

    I think that’s pretty much the general expectation these days. And in many jobs, trades and professions equal pay rates are enforced by agreement, or regulation to be for both genders. This is the common experience of many people.

    But when we look at overall earnings we see that women average substantially less than men.

    There are a number of reasons why this discrepancy arises.

    1. Women on average work fewer hours, achieve lower qualifications, less experience and seniority.

    2. Women on average are clustered in lower paid roles, while men still dominate dirty, dangerous or physically demanding roles that fewer people want or are able to perform.

    3. Women on average choose roles that allow them flexibility to balance their family life.

    4. On the whole most women still prefer that their male partner should earn more than them. There are many women who will set this preference aside short-term, but over the long-run this expectation holds.

    5. Conversely this preference motivates most men to seek higher paid roles. However we want to deconstruct gender, it is still true that women tend to prioritise unpaid nuturing of their family, while men will prioritise their performance and ability to support their family. Of course both family and work life are of equal and mutually dependent value. But one is measured in dollars, while the other is intrinsically demeaned by remuneration.

    Again I repeat, the fight for fair pay is absolutely worth fighting for. There are far too many shitty, badly paid jobs in this country – and too often it is women who are on the short end of them. But framing this issue with global median or average figures, that are fatally flawed in ways that are quite obvious to most people is counter-productive and demeaning.

    It begs the obvious question, often asked, that if all women are 20% cheaper than all men, why then does anyone employ any men? Which looking at the graphs in the OP is not such a stupid question. It would seem that over time this is exactly what is happening, that employers have been driving male earnings down to match female … not the other way around. This is not progress.

    When we pay attention only to the 20% overall gap in dollar earnings between the genders, it automatically erases the incremental non dollar value women bring to society with their preference to put more of their energy into family and community. And while we are bogged down addressing that bit of contentious calculus, I think we will continue to fail on the wider question of fair income and a fair access to resource across the board.

    • mpledger 4.1

      Women don’t achieve lower qualifications – women typically get more degrees and better grades in their degrees on average.

      Nursing is physically demanding and dirty – sometimes dangerous. Prostitution is dangerous, physically demanding and messy. Teaching can be physically demanding and messy – especially with younger kids.

      Research I have seen is that part of the reason that men earn more because they are more willing to switch jobs for a higher salary. Women are more likely to be loyal to their employer.

      • RedLogix 4.1.1

        Women don’t achieve lower qualifications – women typically get more degrees and better grades in their degrees on average.

        Yes you are quite right for New Zealand. I was thinking more in global terms when I wrote that.


        Also google tossed up this gem at the same time:

        Click to access nz-man-drought.pdf

        The fact of women’s professions being lower paid is an enduring phenomenon. Given that women now dominate HR roles it’s harder to make a case for some hidden male conspiracy to suppress female pay. Kerre McIvor addresses this from her perspective in today’s Herald as well:

        We are lucky to live in a country that offers us choice. So get on with it. If you feel you’re being undervalued and underpaid, join your union and use the power of your collective labour to bring about change. That’s how it was done by workers in years gone by.


        Turns out this is quite a complex topic. I linked to this above starts out:

        Recall a time in history when women began to assert their economic independence. After years of holding the near-exclusive role of homemaker, many women ambitiously entered the male-dominated workforce, successfully climbing up the economic ladder. If this description sounds like an account of the latter half of the 20th century in Western culture, it’s not.

        Instead, this account describes a period in Medieval Europe. A substantial portion of women in Northern Europe achieved economic parity with men during the late 12th century (Guttentag & Secord, 1983). Although the Middle Ages are rarely associated with women’s independence, many women in this time and place “became independent entrepreneurs and formed labor unions that were almost exclusively female” (Guttentag & Secord, 1983, p. 66).

        Click to access 09e41505ba96f2db56000000.pdf

        A similar scenario played out in post WW2 Russia. After an almost entire generation of young men were wiped out, huge numbers of women successfully entered traditionally male dominated trades and professions. An effect that can retains an influence in their society today.

  5. savenz 5

    A person I know works for a tech firm. He sees not future there and will probably look to go to Australia, as whenever they advertise a new job at his NZ firm it is cheaper than the salary before. As people leave they lower the wages, those remaining know better than to ask for a pay rise. Where are they getting their ‘new’ recruits? Migrants and the person I know is also a migrant who is looking to get out of NZ and go to Australia to escape NZ low wage economy. The new migrants don’t care about the wages, (or at least not at first), they want the NZ residency and passport.

    The sad thing, is that the tech industry and jobs are booming. The firm is booming, but there is no trickle down, the workers are not really considered valuable as they can be replaced so easily (in the firms eyes).

    That is why there is such a brain drain in this country. The top people are driven out or have little motivation to push themselves. And that is why there is a poor IT industry in NZ, low wages and poor working conditions do not encourage innovation and a silicon valley culture and the industry rife with poorly trained and untalented individuals while they drive the talent away.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      Have you ever worked in the tech industry? There are many more dynamics than what you mention going on.

      • savenz 5.1.1

        @CV I’m not suggesting that this is the complete picture. However wages are low everywhere in NZ, in areas where it should not be, in particular technology. I agree there are much more dynamics but the example I am giving is part of the wider picture of how low wages and migration without jobs and housing in place are destroying our country. Also the lack of investment in anything (like health, technology, science) but roads and housing.

        Not just for locals but also for talented migrants who come here and are driven out.

        Here is another example of how NZ employers are driving out migrant talent in this case

        “Wellington Hospital lost its leading cardio-electrophysiologist, Dr Alejandro Jimenez Restrepo. Born in Colombia and trained in the US, Jimenez had arrived here in 2012 with his wife and young family, intending to settle permanently in New Zealand. Within two and a half years, he was gone. In late November, Werewolf contacted Jimenez at his new post in Abu Dhabi, to discuss the reasons for his departure.”


        • Draco T Bastard

          How do you make a medium to small firm?

          Give control of a large firm to a NZ manager.

          • savenz

            @D T B – I don’t think it is a Nationality thing, I think poor management in this country is due to us being a blueprint for Neoliberalism. We are so small as a population it is easy to be overrun by the same small group of people with a far right ideology to actually take over, businesses, parliament, public companies – hell they are even removing democracy from schools, health boards, councils and the like and replacing them with Neoliberal zombies.

            The MSM checked out long ago and support these brainiacs.

            NZ has a bunch of limited thinking managers recycling them around all the large companies, as they go under then recycle them into public companies, or get old politicians and recycle them as the chairman of these companies.

            It is no surprise that John Key is the chairman of the IDU – he’s the ‘popular’ millionaire share trader that has manipulated a country into thinking he’s a nice guy – one of us.

            Funny world while overseas billionaires look to hide out in NZ


            Key knows NZ is not such a safe place for him, so Hawaii is his ‘safe house’.

            • savenz

              Just think ‘Dame’ Rebstock.

              Her claim to business fame. Being an economist.

              All these ‘NZ business managers’ seem to be are economists, accountants or lawyers. Without a creative or business bone in their bodies.

              No actual entrepreneurs or experts are allowed into NZ companies.

              Further more, most rich business people in NZ are asset strippers with political connections.

              No wonder all we do is sell property in this country and build roads to drive to our properties and employ chefs to make food for people who don’t have time to cook.

              • Whispering Kate

                Savenz I like the way you think and articulate your comments. My mother always used to say to me that accountants, economists and lawyers – money traders as well are just “paper pushers” and don’t contribute one iota to the health of the country – they don’t earn money for the country only for themselves – it is the the producers and manufacturers who create the wealth – they just ride on the backs of the owners and workers, they also enter parliament!! They wouldn’t know how to grow a business if they tried. No wonder many free thinkers quit uni and go out on their own and create businesses which employ people and make profits. I was always of the impression uni made people think outside the square but these days I wonder. Keep up your good comments.

            • Draco T Bastard

              The point is that NZ isn’t getting the services we need because our managers and politicians are too busy cutting costs and telling us to do “more with less” rather than building up our infrastructure and capabilities and all so that they can cut taxes and increase profits in the short term. The result is that, in the long term, NZ is fucked.

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