Why is it that the notion a woman might get a 'fair suck of the sav' still irritates some media professionals a full century after women achieved the vote.

You would expect news media to be in the vanguard of change.

But when company chairman Rob Campbell suggested it might be time for women to be profiled more extensively in business media - and quoted in more stories - journalists took issue with him because that did not reflect the business reality that women (in the main) do not hold the senior roles.

Campbell was arguing for positive inclusion of women to pave the way for a change in the status quo. There will be plenty of women making their way through the corporate hierarchy who would thank him for his championing of their cause.


Just yesterday Newstalk ZB presenter Mike Hosking was quoted "calling out" Paula Bennett over her pay equity speech delivered last week, which lamented the 12 per cent wage gap between men and women which hasn't changed in many years.

Said Hosking: "She offered no solutions, largely because, short of ludicrous amounts of artificiality and intervention there are no obvious solutions."

In the real world many employers think differently. They are also coming up with solutions.

As Westpac chief executive David McLean puts it: "Closing the gender pay gap is the same as any other business problem - and once it is seen that way people take it very seriously ... We've made it one of our core business objectives. We broke the problem down, measured it, made people accountable for it, and set a three-year target."

Here's Nick Stanhope from Sovereign: "The gender pay gap? There shouldn't be one. I have two daughters and want them to go into a world that is fair and equitable. If I can make things better in my position, then that is something that I certainly want to do."

And try Vector chief executive Simon Mackenzie: "We have been changing as an organisation. About 40 per cent of our recent hires have been female, including women in areas such as technology, risk, and in our legal team. It appears to be an ongoing issue that there are still fewer women in electrical engineering but on the IT side we are seeing more coming through."

Trailblazing Chorus chief executive Kate McKenzie said: "When I first started work in the public sector in Australia, it really wasn't too long after the law barring married women from working in the public service had been dropped."

"I went into an environment where I had to lead working parties of men, many of whom were horrified that a woman might be telling them what to do. So every so often I have to remind myself that we have come a very long way since then."


All of this is contained in a report issued online by the Ministry of Women to underpin guidelines for companies on how they can help close the gender pay gap. Other companies which put their names to the initiative include banking giant ANZ, accounting major EY, law firm Simpson Grierson, Icebreaker, and Xero,

Let's get to the truth. It has always taken "ludicrous amounts of artificiality and intervention" to assure women's rights. Ridiculously, women had to chain themselves to lamp posts and create civil disturbances before they were 'given the vote' a century ago.

It took a concerted campaign led by unions and women before equal pay legislation was passed in 1972.

Before that a woman working in a factory would get 60 per cent of the pay of a man doing the same job. And be sent 'down the road' if she 'got pregnant'. Public servants did have more equal conditions but that was not the common reality of the pre-1972 world.

Women have also had to fight hard to be taken seriously in news media.

Back in 1972, women would have got their start on the women's pages, in feature or on magazines or as television helpmeets, working alongside to support a male star.

Now women feature as news media chief executives, editors and top flight investigative journalists.

If the BBC's move to reveal the salaries of top employees and the fact it paid male newsreaders and presenters more than female stars results in another round of activism in the UK so be it.

There are only a few people who would be threatened by that.