WELLINGTON, March 7 (Xinhua) -- Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett - on the day before International Women's Day - voiced disappointment over New Zealand's stubborn gender pay gap.
New research commissioned by the Ministry of Women showed bias and perceptions about women in the workplace were driving the pay gap, said Bennett, who is also Women's Minister, on Tuesday.
"The gender pay gap has remained static for a decade now at around 12 percent. This new research shows that the traditional reasons for women lagging behind, including the types of work they carry out, family responsibilities, education and age are not the main reasons," Bennett said.
The research showed that traditional factors only accounted for about 20 percent of the gap, Bennett said in a statement.
The rest was "unexplained," which was likely to be perception about behavior, attitudes and assumptions about women in work, including conscious and unconscious bias.
Over the past decade, women had become more educated, with fewer girls than boys leaving school without a qualification, said Bennett.
New Zealand was consistently one of the highest in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for women's participation in paid work, and more women were working in fields previously dominated by men.
"It would be great to see employers to look at doing a gender pay audit. I'd also encourage them to look at whether women are being promoted into positions they deserve, implementing solutions including rigorous recruitment processes, and clear career progression criteria," she said.
The government was leading work to reduce the gender pay gap in the public sector and aimed to encourage employers to address the issue in the private sector.
"Those doing the hiring and carrying out pay negotiations should know that it's not about what you can get away with. It's not about how much she's willing to accept. It's about what she's really worth," she said.
Figures from the Ministry of Women showed 65.3 percent of women now participated in the labor market compared to 55 percent in 1995.