From the NZ Herald on Saturday
Pay equality in young women's grasp
Saturday November 11, 2006By Simon Collins
Young New Zealand women are closing the income gap, earning almost as much as their male colleagues.
Women's average hourly wages are now just 3.7 per cent behind men's for those aged 30-34, while women aged 20-29 briefly earned more than men the same age three years ago, Statistics New Zealand figures show.
Men are still well ahead in all older age groups up to 65. But young women are reaping the benefits of performing better than young men in education.
In 37 per cent of working-age couples women now earn at least as much as their partners, up from 20 per cent 20 years ago. In 2001, women and men were in the same income bracket in 22 per cent of couples, up from 13 per cent in 1986, while in 15 per cent the woman was in a higher income bracket, up from 7 per cent.
Women's Affairs Minister Lianne Dalziel said the trend looked "positive" and tied in with a closing of the overall gap between women's and men's hourly earnings.
"It means that the gender pay gap is something that we may be able to see disappear," she said.
But the vice-president of the Father and Child Society, Massey University economist Stuart Birks, warned of the problem of men falling behind.
"Shouldn't we be worried that we are sowing the seeds of another problem in 20 years' time?" he asked.
Council of Trade Unions vice-president Helen Kelly said the equality among young workers might be a result of all young workers being on low wages.