6. Women and work

The future of work means more women at work.  Currently 78 per cent of New Zealand men are in paid work compared with 68 per cent of New Zealand women (this compares to an OECD average of 58 per cent).1

Issues to consider:

  • If we are moving to greater levels of self-employment then what mentoring opportunities could we implement for women to start up their own businesses?
  • How do we support and encourage women to take up training and educational opportunities in industries where there is anticipated job growth and employment opportunities?

Female dominated sectors have to date been those which have faced a greater level of exploitative casualisation such as cleaning services and tend to be less represented amongst those where workers have benefited such as engineering.

Issue to consider:

  • How do we ensure that women do not face the brunt of the impact of increased flexibility and get their fair share of its benefits?

The pay gap between men and women persists. Women earn more than $4 less for every hour worked compared to men.  The average hourly rate for men is $30.65 compared to $26.53 for women.2 There is clearly a need to re-establish the Labour Department’s Pay and Employment Equity Unit. 

Alongside this initiative:

  • What initiatives can be implemented to ensure women and men receive equal pay for work of equal value (across the public and private sectors)?

At the end of June this year, 285,349 working aged New Zealander’s were receiving a main benefit –58 per cent of those were women. This higher proportion of female beneficiaries is largely due to the disproportionate numbers of women receiving the sole parent benefit (91 per cent are women).3  SUPERU’s Family and Whanau 2015 status report indicated that single parent families in New Zealand were found to have significant rates of mental health issues.4 Of the more than 200,000 single parent families, 82.1 per cent of the single parents are female.5

Issues to consider:

  • How do we support sole parents to parent while providing them with professional development and/or employment opportunities?
  • What improvements could be made to early-childhood education, afterschool care and holiday programme provisions to support parents to work and parent?
  • Is there scope to support/incentivise employers with more flexible working arrangements that suit particular family circumstances?