Wednesday, November 08, 2006


From the Dom Post Yesterday

Highlighting the wage gap 07 November 2006

LANE NICHOLS Kiwi women slogging it out in female-dominated jobs earn around a third less than men with similar experience in traditionally masculine careers, a new report reveals.

Experienced female caregivers, cafe workers and retail assistants could earn an extra $15,000 a year on average if they switched to predominantly male trades such as building, plumbing or engineering.

The findings have caught the attention of the Equal Employment Opportunities commissioner and sparked concerns about gender-based occupational segregation in this country.

The Wages and Costs of Education and Training report was compiled by the Ministry of Women's Affairs to assess the financial reward associated with certain gender-specific careers for female job seekers.

Women's Affairs Minister Lianne Dalziel said the findings showed wages for qualified, experienced staff were around 45 per cent higher in male dominated trade-related occupations than in traditionally female jobs.

But that was not necessarily obvious to someone deciding on a career path as starting rates tended to be similar.

Researchers surveyed 115 organisations across 14 work-based training sectors, comparing wages, qualification requirement and training costs.

Male-dominated careers surveyed in the report included building, painting, bricklaying, mechanics, engineering and plumbing. Training costs in these fields were usually paid by employers.

Traditionally female occupations were hairdressing, travel agents, caregivers, beauty therapists, cafe workers, retail assistants and administrators. The workers usually paid for their own training.

On average, a qualified person with five years' experience in a female-dominated trade earned $34,000 a year based on a median hourly rate of $16.50.

A man with similar experience working in a predominantly male trade earned $50,000 a year – or $24 an hour.

Hairdressers and travel agents were exceptions. Both had the highest reported earnings of the 14 trades thanks to a hefty commission component.

Ms Dalziel said recent data showed the pay gap between men and women was reducing, but women's median hourly earnings still lagged 12 per cent behind men's.

"This is the kind of information I believe all young people should know about before they make the decision about what field to enter."

Equal Employment Opportunities commissioner Judy McGregor said the findings were concerning, though not a surprise.

There was a mistaken belief that women were not concerned about money when choosing a profession.

Young female job seekers needed better information about career prospects and pay, she said.
The ministry plans further work to assess whether young people will use the report's findings when choosing a career and whether the modern apprenticeship scheme is accessible to women. It will also look at whether gender-based occupational segregation has any economic impacts.

From the Herald

Government braced for claims after equal pay review

Tuesday November 7, 2006By Mike Houlahan

The Government could be addressing its first pay-equity claims by the middle of next year, with the Cabinet agreeing terms of reference for pay and employment equity reviews.

The public service, health and education sectors will all be subject to a review designed to ensure occupations that are dominated by women see those workers earn fair pay and have equal employment opportunities.

Despite equal pay law being on the books since 1972, in March 2005 women's average hourly earnings were 86.4 per cent of men's.

"The aim is to have a process and remedy which is sustainable, so that in a decade we could say we don't have a pay and employment equity gap in New Zealand," Labour Minister Ruth Dyson said yesterday.

"Whether that's delivered or not is yet to be seen. It's a new process."

Before a pay equity or equal employment opportunity claim is lodged, a template which tests each occupation's job size and remuneration against a comparable occupation must be completed.

A review will then be carried out before a claim is lodged.

Depending on the review's findings, workers such as teachers, secretaries, librarians, dental therapists and nurses may find their wages boosted.

"I don't imagine the pay gap is going to be huge in a number of occupations," Ms Dyson said. "I do think the employment equity issues are ones we have to get our heads around better and which employers will have to work hard to deliver on.

"You can fix a pay gap with a one-off wage increase, but that doesn't mean it's going to be sustained. If you change the workplace so that female staff are better valued for their contribution, then it will be sustainable."

Ms Dyson expected to see some definite claims on the table by the middle or third quarter of next year.

She said there had been "huge understanding and support" from the relevant government departments and agencies, from the State Services Commission, District Health Boards, and school trustees.

Council of Trade Unions vice-president Helen Kelly said with pay equity claims resolved women would look at the state as a preferred employer, boosting the need for private sector to move in step

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