The continual outcry over the so-called "gender pay gap" always frustrates me.

Don't get me wrong, I agree men and women should get paid the same amount for doing the same job but I believe most employers would not even consider paying someone less based on their gender.

On Saturday we reported the overall gender pay discrepancy in New Zealand sits at 11.8 per cent according to the National Council of Women of New Zealand but there are plenty of valid reasons for that.

Women often choose to take time off work to have children. Understandably, the longer you choose to take off, the harder it becomes to reach the top levels of your profession.


If you're only away from work for six months there should be no problem slotting back in but if you choose to take a few years off to be a stay-at-home mum you miss out on a lot of experience and risk falling behind in recent developments and changes. It makes sense that a man, who has not had that time off and has therefore has gained more experience, would earn more.

In the same vein, many women choose to work part-time so they can be around to look after their children more.

If you are working less, you are going to get paid less. And it goes without saying, part-time jobs are not going to be the high-powered roles which command a high hourly rate - being a part-time chief executive is not usually an option if you want to run a successful business.

It does also come down to what career you choose. Administration jobs, which are often in the lower pay bracket, have been dominated by women. A man doing the same job would get the same pay.

These days women are training for a much wider variety of jobs. I know women who have studied engineering, medicine, law and business - all traditionally high-paying and male-dominated jobs. Given a few more years we may see the gender pay gap declining as these women move towards the top of their fields.

Of course how high you go is down to each individual.

If you choose to take time out to have children, you can't expect to climb through the ranks in the same time as someone who does not take that time off.