Lizzie Towl, Victoria Univesrity of Wellington Branch Women’s rep, and Clare Moleta, National Women’s Committee member, reflect on the gender pay gap for International Women's Day.

In late February we welcomed guest speakers Dr Isabelle Sin, Senior Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research and Adjunct Senior Lecturer at Victoria’s School of Economics and Finance, and Te Pou Whirinaki | TEU National Women's Officer Suzanne McNabb, at a Pay Equity Pit Stop Celebration on Kelburn campus.

The ‘celebration’ highlighted a rare piece of good news on the gender pay gap: new Employment and Income statistics show not only that the average full-time wage increased by 3.6% (or over $40 per week) in 2019, but that women’s average pay increased 1.3% more than men’s. As CTU Policy Director and Economist Andrea Black commented, ‘If this trend continues we will actually start to see meaningful improvement to correcting the gender pay imbalance.’

The ‘pit stop’ aspect recognised that women in general – and wahine Māori and Pasifika women in particular - are still paid significantly less than men on average. We have a long way to go.

Nearly fifty years on from the Equal Pay Act, the reality is far from rosy, but both speakers had practical ideas for how to make change within organisations. McNabb called for the University to adopt the Gender Pay Principles agreed by unions, state sector agencies and the State Services Commission in 2018, following the Public Services Association’s successful claim for ‘equal pay for work of equal value’ on behalf of care and support workers in the health and disability sectors. Sin talked about proven, evidence-based interventions, and recommended behavioural economist Iris Bohnet’s acclaimed book "What Works: gender equality by design" (Harvard University Press, 2016).

Interested in joining a conversation about advancing gender pay transparency and equity at Vic? We’d love to hear from you.