Report comes as campaigns to bridge gender pay gap build pressure on companies and public sector

New Zealand women are earning thousands of dollars less than their male counterparts just five years after graduation, a report reveals.

The comprehensive Ministry of Education analysis shows what happens to men and women after their study - and also found that men are much more likely to head overseas.

It comes as campaigns to bridge the gender pay gap put increasing pressure on companies and the public sector.

Young men were found to earn more than young women after completing tertiary qualifications, with first-year earnings roughly equal only at the bachelors degree and graduate certificate and diploma levels. While women's earnings grew most in the first year after study, men's earnings rose faster for longer.


Overall, men earned more than women at all qualification levels by five years after study - with a difference of more than $10,000 for those with a masters degree.

Women's earnings were 92 per cent of men's after completing a bachelors degree, 84 per cent after a masters degree and 85 per cent after a doctorate.

The report's author, Paul Mahoney, noted that as well as any differences in pay rates, earnings could be affected by differences in preferred occupations and hours worked - all of which the study did not measure.

But a spokeswoman for the Pay Equity Coalition, Angela Mcleod, told the Weekend Herald the report followed research that showed a difference in pay on an hourly basis.

There was structural discrimination and unconscious bias in workplaces, she said, and the solution was to fight on a number of fronts, including in the courts - a landmark equal pay case is under appeal - and through education.

Another strategy is recognising companies that are moving to close the gender pay gap. The YWCA Equal Pay Awards will acknowledge firms which have implemented equal pay policies or are taking meaningful action.

In the public sector, Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue has promised action after her analysis found women were paid an average 14 per cent less than their male counterparts.

Yesterday's report, which used data from Statistics NZ and Inland Revenue, also found that men are more likely to head overseas after study. That difference varied between qualification level and study area. People with higher qualifications were more likely to look abroad.


Almost two-thirds of men who completed natural and physical sciences doctorates were overseas five years later, compared with 28 per cent of women.