Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Equal pay 'down to bosses'

Employers hold the power to fix New Zealand's growing gender pay imbalance, the Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce says.

Quarterly figures from Statistics NZ show men continue to reap better pay cheques than women.

According to the Quarterly Employment Survey, men earned an average hourly rate of $29.20 during the September quarter - compared to the $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. Chamber chief executive Stephanie Gundersen-Reid said employers needed to address gender issues in the workplace.

"To reduce that pay gap it's going to come down to the employer.

"If the employer is not paying equal wages for equal work than it needs to come from the employer ... that change in attitude."

University of Canterbury professor Lucy Johnston said outdated stereotypes of women in business often made things worse in the work place.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 ensure that to become successful, women do not 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, she said.

Earlier this year, it was also 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.

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.

Employers and Manufacturers Association spokesman Gilbert Peterson said women were under-utilised in the workforce.

"We're firmly of the view that a way for business to improve their productivity is to look at getting more diversity in their workplace." APNZ

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