Tauranga's female public servants are typically in lower-paid jobs than their male colleagues.

Sixty-two per cent of Tauranga City Council's female staff earn less than $60,000, compared to the 19 per cent of the council's male staff who earn under this amount.

At the other end of the scale, 9 per cent of female staff earn more than $100,000 compared to 21 per cent of male staff.

The high number of females represented in this bracket could be because administrative roles have traditionally attracted more females than males.

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It is a similar story at the Western Bay District Council and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

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Tauranga City Council general manager people and capability, Karen Lysaght, said the council recruited and appointed people on merit.

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Ms Lysaght said most women applied for jobs in the pay band below $60,000 which is largely composed of library, customer services and administration roles. Forty per cent of roles in the lowest pay band were part-time, which were more often sought by women.

The executive leadership team and senior management team had equal gender representation, while middle management featured men more prominently, particularly in infrastructure, building services and monitoring activities.

Ms Lysaght said the council had an equal employment opportunities policy.

Erin Polaczuk, national secretary of the Public Service Association, said the pay imbalance at the three councils was "incredibly disappointing" but not a surprise.

If employers notice women are congregating in lower-paid areas, provide opportunities for them to move into the higher pay bands.

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Ms Polaczuk said that in her opinion, instead of explaining away why women were employed mostly in lower pay bands, organisations needed to look at why this was so.

"If employers notice women are congregating in lower-paid areas, provide opportunities for them to move into the higher pay bands.

"That could be things like providing leadership training for women, or mentoring and coaching."

Ms Polaczuk said it was not good enough for organisations to say "this is the way it is".

Jobs traditionally undertaken by women were usually paid less than traditional male jobs but "work of equal value should be paid equally", she said.

"It might be the work being done by the women is equally as valuable as the jobs mentioned by the councils as being more male-dominated, but they haven't been remunerated highly in the past because they're done by women.

The causes for the pay gap are complex. They include overt sexism, unconscious bias, and gender stereotypes which influence women's and men's educational and professional pathways.

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"In admin and clerical work for example, there is a highly complex range of skills required but because it's traditionally done by women, it's not a highly paid area of work."

Ms Polaczuk said that generally in the public sector there was a 14 per cent wage gap between what men and women earned for the same roles.

National Council of Women of New Zealand chief executive Sue McCabe said 2015 statistics, which showed a gender pay gap of 11.8 per cent in New Zealand, were unacceptable.

"The causes for the pay gap are complex. They include overt sexism, unconscious bias, and gender stereotypes which influence women's and men's educational and professional pathways," she said.

"Employers need to identify any structural bias in pay, retention and promotion and work to mitigate it."

Labour's Women's Affairs spokeswoman, Ruth Dyson, said it was obvious women were being employed in jobs that had lower pay.

"This would be a good opportunity for the councils to see what it is about the way they recruit and retain staff that doesn't place women into the higher-paid positions."

Western Bay District Council director organisational development, Jan Pedersen, said pay for different roles at Western Bay Council was determined by market rates and not influenced by gender.

"Everyone in a certain role is in the same pay bracket regardless of whether they are male or female.

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"We have more females than men working in the under-$60,000 pay bracket at council. Many of these roles are administrative, requiring skills, knowledge and experience that typically attract more women than men when there is a vacancy.

"A number of these roles are also part-time. This can be an attractive option for women with children. This isn't concerning, just a reality."

Ms Pedersen said some of this imbalance in the higher pay brackets was due to infrastructure, engineering/construction-type roles within the council being more appealing to men.

The council had no policies specifically targeting women or gender-related pay.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council general manager of corporate solutions, James Graham, said administrative roles within the council formed a considerable proportion of the lower pay bracket.

"The high number of females represented in this bracket could be because administrative roles have traditionally attracted more females than males."

Mr Graham said the council recruited the most capable person for the job.

Minister for Women Louise Upston said many factors contributed to the gender pay gap.

Factors included female-dominated occupations receiving lower pay on average, women being less likely to be in management and leadership roles, women being more likely to be in part-time work, and unconscious bias and discrimination in the workplace, she said.

Ms Upston said employers could check to see if they had a gender pay gap and if so, to take actions to remedy this by offering flexible work options to all staff; ensuring all managers undertook unconscious bias training; and reviewing their recruitment, performance and promotion processes to ensure these were rigorously talent-based.