Gender Pay Equity in the Tertiary Education Sector.

In 2021, the gender pay gap is around 10% when pay for all women is compared with pay for all men. But, when compared with Pākehā men, the gender pay gap is much larger – about 15% – because Pasifika, Māori, and Asian men also get paid less than Pākehā male workers. Critically, the gap continues to be much more significant for wāhine Māori and wāhine Pasifika.

There has been some narrowing of this gap since 2017 through landmark pay equity settlements, increases to the minimum wage, more low paid workers being paid the Living Wage, and low paid occupations in the public service winning pay increases in response to government expectations for pay equity. These wins have been actively fought for by unions – sometimes over years – and together they have contributed to lifting the average hourly rate for women.

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What is TEU doing to progress gender pay equity?

Together TEU has begun mahi to progress gender pay equity for some of our lowest paid female dominated workforces across the sector. The different parts of the Tertiary Education Sector require different approaches and significant opportunities are before us in two parts of our sector.

Pay equity in Te Pūkenga structures & Processes

Within the vocational and skills education sector we are working hard to ensure equity for staff and students is prioritised in the development of the Te Pūkenga operating model and built into the organisational structures and processes. We have submitted an equity briefing to the senior leadership team and the National Women's Committee have met with Te Pūkenga equity team to outline our expectations for staff equity. As an important first step in progressing equity, TEU is advocating for pay parity for all workers across the network within the negotiation of the collective agreements. Once this is achieved there will be more mahi to do to progress gender and ethnicity equity.

Pay equity in Universities: Libraries and Clerical & Administration

We have learnt from other unions that it may take time and lots of collective effort, but it is possible to tangibly make a difference in women’s lives through gender pay equity claims. In 2020, amendments to the Equal Pay Act were designed to support individuals, unions and employers in raising and settling claims.

Across our eight universities we are exploring opportunities to raise two claims in the first instance for some of the lowest paid, female-dominated occupational areas, in libraries and in clerical and administration roles. As we gather more information, we will be shaping up this work and determining if and how claims should be raised. If you are interested in joining us in this work please contact the National Women's officer at

Six actions you can take right now

  1. 1.

    Initiate conversation about 'gender pay equity' with a colleague, friend, work team.

  2. 2.

    Read about the Gender Pay Equity claims TEU is developing in universities.

  3. 3.

    Hold a gender pay equity lunchtime/ morning tea.

  4. 4.

    Invite a speaker to your Suffrage day or International Working Women's Day events to talk about pay equity.

  5. 5.

    Go talk to your library staff, administrators and clerical workers on your campus. Tell them about our work and ask if they want to get involved.

  6. 6.

    Sign up for becoming an active part of the gender pay equity claims campaign in your university or contact the National Women's Officer to get involved with advocating for equity in Te Pūkenga.