From Tuesday 24 November, women of all ethnicities across Aotearoa effectively began working for free until the end of the year due to gender pay imbalances between men and women.

The gender pay gap between men and women in the average wage is 10%. From 24 November there is 10% of the year left until Christmas, so effectively women are now working for free until the end of the year. The gender pay gap is even more pronounced for Pasifika and Māori women when compared to Pākehā men, with Pasifika women working for free since 29 September (25.4%), and wāhine Māori from 11 October (22%).

Research has demonstrated  that the gender pay gap in Aotearoa remains, even when drivers traditionally thought to underpin the gender pay gap are taken into account including type of work, family responsibilities, education, and age. About 80% of the gender pay gap was due to ‘unexplained’ factors such as ‘behaviour, attitudes, and assumptions about women in work, including unconscious bias’.

Within our own sector recent research highlights the enduring racism and sexism that shapes inequalities for women. TEU members Dr Sereana Naepi and Professor Joanna Kidman have published research with colleagues that highlights inequalities in pay and promotion for Māori and Pasifika women in our sector irrespective of research performance, age or field.

Reducing gender inequalities in employment and pay in the tertiary education sector remains a priority for TEU. Employment and Income statistics revealed that the average full-time wage increased by 3.6% (or over $40 per week) in 2019, and women’s average pay increased 1.3% more than men’s over the same period. Yet the economic impact of Covid-19 over the course of this year has disproportionately impacted women, exposing the reality that women are over-represented in some of the most vulnerable, insecure and low-paid areas of work in our economy.

TEU’s Gender Equity Strategy 2020-2023 calls for greater recognition of the value of both paid and unpaid work of wāhine, for equitable pay, and the elimination of the gender pay gap. TEU Te Pou Whirinaki | Women's Officer Sarah Proctor-Thomson says in order to meet these objectives, it’s important TEU members continue to raise awareness and campaign for gender equality.

In March 2021 the TEU National Women’s Committee and Women’s Representative Network will be meeting together in a series of regional hui to strategies and plan for this critical work.