MMP initially saw the percentage of women MPs increase from around 20 per cent to 30 per cent but this is roughly where it has stayed for the past 18 years.
Internationally, New Zealand is considered to be doing well (we are just above the international target) but why aren't we leading in this area? While we were the first country to enfranchise women, we are behind many countries in actually getting women into Parliament.
Tomorrow is Suffrage Day. Saturday's election is likely to bring one or two fewer women into Parliament than we have now. Whether this will mean fewer women around the Cabinet table remains to be seen.
Although Kate Sheppard and other suffragettes around the world fought hard to get the vote for all women, 120 years on this still hasn't resulted in equality in the House of Representatives.
I believe this matters.
The strong case for greater diversity and more women in senior decision-making roles in business applies to political parties too. Women bring different experiences to the table than men. Diversity of thought is considered by New Zealand businesses to give them the competitive edge.
Our Parliament needs an edge too, and having only about 40 women out of about 120 MPs is a barrier to New Zealand's progress.
Women make up 51 per cent of the population so, arguably, we should expect our House of Representatives to reflect that. A quota system could work, and the Human Rights Act 1993 allows for special measures to address inequality. But for some New Zealanders this would be a step too far.
Women need to be attracted to public office in the first place. Removing various barriers to election and making Parliament a place that is appealing to women will help.
We follow a Westminster system of parliament: It is a masculine model of politics based on the concept of winners versus losers, confrontation and competition. To win, you need to denigrate your opponent. Subsequently, many women find Parliament to be unappealing and hostile. Women seriously question why they would stand for office and thus expose themselves and their families to this.
Women are generally more collaborative, avoid conflict and are good at problem-solving. Having more women elected to Parliament and appointed to Cabinet will not only bring the other side of the brain to the table, but also make Parliament a less brutal place.
As well as toning down the cockfight atmosphere, political parties need to select more women for their "safe" seats rather than putting them on the list or to stand in unwinnable seats. A list MP has a more uncertain life. Getting back to Parliament is dependent on their place on the list and the party vote.
So here's the challenge for the parties voted by the public to represent them in Parliament: Make sure your women have the opportunity to utilise their skills and knowledge and are well represented at the Cabinet table. Consider how to change the current adversarial ethos of debate by talking respectfully to each other. Women are more likely to stay committed and in a less adversarial workplace everyone will get more work done.
Dr Jackie Blue is Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner and a former list MP.