Northland's spiralling unemployment rate could be contributing to the growing gender pay gap, the region's Chamber of Commerce says.
Quarterly figures from Statistics NZ show men continue to be better paid than women.
According to the Quarterly Employment Survey, men earned an average hourly rate of $29.20 during the September quarter - compared to $25.06 earned by women.
The $4 difference translates to a 1.3 per cent jump in the gender pay gap since the last September quarter, from 12.85 per cent to 14.18 per cent.
"We're top of the ranks as far as the country is concerned [in unemployment]," Northland Chamber of Commerce member Tim Robinson said.
"Maybe women are getting hit harder by that than men are."
Mr Robinson said there had been no obvious trends around gender and employment in Northland, but suggested the region's extensive tourism industry may have had an effect on pay differences.
"Tourism generally tends to be very minimal wage - so if you've got a higher percentage of females employed in tourism, then that could possibly account for it."
University of Canterbury Professor Lucy Johnston said outdated stereotypes of women in business often made things worse in the work place.
"Role models and encouragement are essential for young women and we must make every effort to promote and endorse successful women and we must ensure that to become successful, women do net need to become 'like men'."
University research indicated women were often outdone by men when competing for jobs typically filled by males, despite having the same level of experience and qualifications.
It also found women were more likely to be successful in such job applications if they dressed and talked in a more masculine way, Dr Johnston said.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that female accountants are paid, on average, 26 per cent less than their male counterparts, according to the annual New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants survey.
The New Zealand Federation of Business and Professional Women labelled the pay gap figures "legalised theft". Closing the gender pay gap would help all New Zealanders.
"It is a no-brainer that if more money was in the pockets of women and their families, then the economy benefits and grows," president Carolyn Savage said. "Equal pay for work of equal value should be rewarded on the same financial basis, which in turn would result in more buying power for women and their families."
According to the quarterly survey rates, women would need to work until February 21 next year to earn the same as their male counterparts did by the end of 2012, Mrs Savage said.