There are more men named David running NZX-listed firms than there are women.

There are more men named David running NZX-listed firms than there are women, of any name. Also more Marks, Christophers and Michaels. When it comes to Chairmen of NZX-listed firms, then it’s Peters, Davids, Johns and Christophers at the top of the list, followed by women of any name.

I collated the data and wrote about it for my university’s annual “Future NZ” magazine, which is a joint publication with the NZ Herald. The full article is available here: Who’s running New Zealand’s companies?

New Zealand is of course very small, so the data could be distorted easily. It could be for example, that if I had counted things a little differently, or chosen a different time period, or looked at say the Deloitte Top 200, that I would have gotten a different result. Perhaps it might have been James, Josh and Ben at the top of the list. But I don’t think the overall pattern would have changed. When it comes to business in New Zealand, it’s men who are running the place, and it’s very hard for women to get a look in at all.

I think there are ways of changing this, starting with raising awareness of the problem, and then making positive steps to make a difference. The Ministry for Women runs a nominations service to facilitate the appointment of women to state sector boards and committees: perhaps it could be expanded to provide a register of board-ready women that private sector firms could use too.

And yes, lack of diversity in the top level management of New Zealand business is a problem. The research is very clear: people make better decisions in more diverse groups.

Talking about pay equity

I was on Nights on Radio NZ last night, talking about pay equity.

The podcast of the talk is available here: Pundit: Feminist thought

As usual, I put together a set of notes for Bryan Crump, together with links to relevant articles. I’ve reproduced them below, with some extra notes.

Pay equity – discussion notes for Radio NZ Nights on Monday 13 October

Problem – women’s wages lagging behind men’s wages

NZ evidence – depends how you measure it – somewhere between 10% and 14%.

Ministry of Women’s Affairs gender pay gap data

Over the past few years, the gap between women’s and men’s wages in New Zealand has hovered around 10%. It got down to as low as 9.3% in 2012, but it’s gone back up to around 10% in the last couple of years.

The most recent information I could find puts the gender pay gap in NZ at about 14% – Radio NZ story from 4 October on the gender pay gap.

But we compare quite well to the US – the gender pay gap there is about 23% for full time workers (ref).

In Australia, one CEO who recognises that there is a pay gap got into trouble when he said that:

by hiring women, he got better-qualified employees to whom he was able to give more responsibility. “And [they were] still often relatively cheap compared to what we would’ve had to pay someone less good of a different gender,” he concluded. To illustrate his point he showed a slide that said: “Women: Like Men, Only Cheaper.”

What causes it?

Standard explanations – caring duties, time out for pregnancy/ childcare, lack of flexible work, occupational segregation, experience, education. But research shows that even when you account for all of that, a pay gap remains. See NZ Herald – the true reasons behind the gender pay gap.

Some evidence that I find interesting, given that I started out as an accountant – men in accountancy with less than five years experience earn about $3,600 more than their female counterparts (Radio NZ story). At that stage of people’s careers, explanations based around pregnancy and childcare don’t seem to be quite so relevant.

What can be done about it?

Take a pay equity case, as Kristine Bartlett has done in NZ.

Encourage women to negotiate for higher wages but that’s a double edged sword.

Women earn less than men because they are seen as pushovers when they don’t negotiate hard and are seen as “ball-breakers” when they do, a psychologist says.

Or… we could always cut men’s wages!

Some other references:
A piece I wrote for the Dom Post about the gender pay gap a few years ago:
Isn’t it time to fix the pay gap?

Dr Jackie Blue on pay equity – Bridging the gender pay gap: Pay-up time at public service

A couple of research reports on the gender pay gap.
What causes the gender wage gap, from the Center for American Progress

Explaining the wage gap, from the American National Women’s Law Center.

More on on the pesky paygap

A fascinating graph, and dicussion, about the pay gap between men and women.

The jobs with the biggest and smallest pay gaps between men and women

It’s US data, so it won’t translate exactly to New Zealand, but I’m sure that the overall pattern is about right.

The jobs with the biggest pay gaps?

  • Insurance sales agents
  • Retail sales
  • Sales and related workers
  • Real estate brokers and agents
  • Personal finance advisors
  • Education administrators
  • Physicians and surgeons
  • General and operations managers
  • Marketing and sales managers
  • Stock brokers
  • Inspectors etc. at production lines

And the jobs with the smallest pay gaps are:

  • Security guards
  • Warehouse stock clerks
  • Paralegals and legal assistants
  • Data entry
  • Cafeteria workers, bussers, etc
  • Social workers
  • Office clerks
  • Buyers for wholesale and retail
  • Pharmacists
  • Counselors
  • Health technicians

Lam Thuy Vo, who compiled the graph, notes that:

The jobs where the gap is biggest pay more, on average, than the jobs where the gap is lowest.

I think that its interesting to think about which jobs are marked male, and which jobs are marked female. My estimate is that about 10 of the 11 jobs with the biggest pay gaps are marked male, and about 8 of the 11 jobs with the smallest pay gaps are marked female. YMMV on this, of course. I’ve said before, tongue in cheek, sort of, that one way to even up the gender pay gap is for more men to take on “women’s” jobs. The converse of that is that more women can attempt to enter “men’s” jobs. But what this graph shows is that even when women move into those higher paid roles, they still can’t get rid of the gap between their pay, and men’s pay.

And no, it’s not just because women take time out for child bearing and rearing. As the original article says:

Part of the gap in pay is driven by choices, even within single job categories. Among physicians, for example, women are more likely than men to choose lower-paid specialties (though this does not explain all of the pay gap among doctors).

And among all workers, women are more likely than men to take a significant time off from work to raise children, and they tend to be re-hired at lower wages than their counterparts who remained in the workforce.

But not all of the difference be explained by choices such as these.

Why women don’t make it to the top in the police force

Cross posted

Today’s Dom Post says that we need more women at top levels in the police force, and argues that a big part of the problem is the entrenched culture of sexism and misogyny. It goes even further than suggesting that the culture in the police force needs to change, saying:

Changing the culture of an organisation takes time, but the time for soft-footing the issue is past. If there are still police officers who cannot deal with women in the workplace they, not their female colleagues, should go.

And it fingers the sexual harassment and bullying of women officers as the big problem that stops women from making it to the top.

There are two explanations for the dearth of women at senior level. One is that the country’s 1564 sworn female police officers are good for patrolling the beat, making arrests and prettying up the station, but do not have the heads for more serious matters. The other is that the police culture is antagonistic towards women. Dame Margaret Bazley’s 2007 commission of inquiry into police conduct and a 2000 review of female participation in the criminal investigation branch suggests the latter is the case.

Dame Margaret’s inquiry focused predominantly on sexual misconduct, but it revealed a workplace in which antediluvian attitudes toward women persisted well into the 1980s and in which elements of the police hierarchy regarded allegations of sexual misconduct in the same way as the Catholic church. They were to be hushed up and tidied away rather than dealt with.

The 2000 CIB review revealed a similar culture. Author Prue Hyman, associate professor of economics and women’s studies at Victoria University, found an, at times, unwelcoming climate for women ”where mild gender harassment and workplace bullying is often tolerated”.

Wow. Tough talk. Watch out for senior police officers denying it all later on today…

But I don’t think that’s the only attitude problem that’s stopping women from getting to the top in the police force. last Saturday’s Dom Post had a full age article about women in the police: What stops women becoming top cops?

There are some clues in the article about another huge problem for female police officers.

“Reviews have discussed how it takes a ‘special kind of woman’ to get ahead; that there are higher standards for women; that the police internal culture demands a certain assertiveness and personal resilience from women; that there is an element of sexism; and that all in all it’s an old boys’ club.”
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She points to the recent departure of Ms Rose, and Superintendent Gayle Gibson, who retired last year.

The difficulty of combining work and family are a barrier to career progression, Ms Hornsby-Geluk says.


Dayle Candy, who had risen to the rank of detective senior sergeant when she quit in 2001, says she couldn’t juggle work and family. She had served 26 years.

“There was an atmosphere that persisted that I wasn’t capable of doing the job because I had a family. And there was very little discussion around changing that. The environment wasn’t created to change that.


One former senior officer believes entry to the top of the hierarchy requires a cop to have served as a detective inspector, an area commander and a detective senior sergeant – all demanding roles requiring long, often unpredictable hours that often don’t suit mothers.


Mr O’Connor wonders if the current push to get more officers serving on the front line will stall progress. “Police work is police work,” he says. “The [current] mantra is front line. What that means is, generally, shift work. Shift work is generally less family-friendly.”

He also accepts that many women officers have partners also in the force.

Both Ms Hughes and Ms Candy question whether the nature of frontline policing is compatible with family life.


“Women in every other workplace are balancing their work with their families, their husband. Does it upset families at times? Yes, it does. I think it is no different from any other workplace.”

Notice the theme in all of that? Childcare and family life is a problem. But more than that, notice who it is a problem for. It’s not a problem for male police officers. Instead, it’s a problem for women in the police force. Male police officers with children don’t have to worry about childcare, but female police officers do.

And therein lies a problem. For a woman to succeed in the police, she has to be a superwoman, juggling career and children and shiftwork, because this is all regarded as her responsibility. Who knows to what extent police bosses just don’t get around to promoting women because they look at her responsibilities, and decide that she won’t be able to manage. Maybe they don’t do this explicitly, but just make a casual hidden assumption that a woman who is a mother won’t be able to manage. That’s certainly the casual hidden assumption in all the quotes above.

A woman shouldn’t have to be a superwoman to succeed. That’s one of the key points that Anne-Marie Slaughter made in her article in The Atlantic: Why women still can’t have it all. Men aren’t required to be supermen to make it to senior positions, but women are. And one of the central reasons for that is that people still think that childcare and families are the woman’s responsibility.

The working* mother’s lament

I had a huge amount to get through at work this week – study material that simply must be prepared and loaded onto websites and ready to go a week ahead of the second semester starting. The second semester doesn’t start until mid-Juiy, but there are two weeks of school holidays first, and my part-time job means that I don’t work then. As well as masses of work, I had two rehearsals for my choir, and a concert at my daughters’ school, and a meeting for a trust board that I am on. On top of all this, as is reasonably common, Mr Bee was away some nights, for work. I knew that the week would be frantic.

And then, on Monday morning, Miss Ten the younger came into our bedroom, looking very pale and droopy. She has a sore throat and sore ears, and really was quite miserable. She spent two days aawy from school, but by Tuesday evening, she was looking much better. Good, I thought. I can have three really good days in the office.

Except that by Tuesday evening, Miss Ten the younger was getting paler and paler, and clearly getting sicker and sicker. She was away from school on Wednesday and Thursday, and again today, ‘though by late afternoon, she had recovered.

I didn’t get a single day in the office all week.

There are some things that make managing sick children easier for me than for many parents. I have an office to myself, which is standard practice for academics in universities, and it’s large, so I have a sofa in there, which is ideal for sick children. I had meetings on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday that I didn’t want to miss, so on those days, the girls came to campus with me, and languished on my sofa, with books and my iPad to keep themselves amused. My work can easily be done at home, although it’s a nuisance not having ready access to the resources in my office, and not being able to wander down the hallway to consult a colleague over a problem if necessary.

But working at home has its limitations, notably with respect to my laptop. By Thursday I had sore arms and hands thanks to the height of the dining table where I was working, and the clunkiness of my laptop’s mousepad. I could solve both those problems (mouse instead of a mousepad, swapping to a different table), but the ergonomics at home are not nearly has good as my desk in my office. And try as I might, I never get as much done at home as I do in the office.

It was been a tough week. But even then, for me, as a working mother, it has been comparatively easy. Academic jobs are one of the few jobs that are output oriented instead of input oriented. My employer doesn’t really count the hours I put in. Instead, I am measured by the number of students I teach, and the amount of research I do. If I happen to do my work in the middle of the night, that’s just fine. Obviously, I have to turn up for the classes I teach, and as a rule, I ought to be in my office and present in the department during normal work hours, but if I need to work from home, I can. And I am not a sole parent. Because Mr Bee has a Big Job, we have consciously decided that I will work part time, so that we can manage childcare.** However, even though I end up taking most of the childcare responsibilities, if the sky really fell down, I could call on Mr Bee for help.

But what say you have a job where being present is what matters? How many bosses are going to be happy with an employee taking a whole week off to care for sick children? And here’s the thing about children: they are little repositories of disease. They get sick, with winter bugs and illnesses, and sick childen cannot go to school or daycare. That means that you cannot go to work.

And if you are a sole parent, then by definition you do not have a partner with whom to share childcare. This is why the National party’s plan to make sure that all those sole parents are out working will fail. It’s not that that parents don’t want to work. All the evidence shows that the great majority of people who are on the DPB are only on it for a few years, and move off it when they are able too. Many of them find employment precarious and difficult to manage – witness Paula Bennett’s struggle – but they are willing to work. The problem is the lack of jobs where employers are happy for employees to take leave to care for sick children. Add to this the need to take leave for school holidays – 12 weeks school holidays each year, but most employees only get four weeks annual leave – and the minor detail of most jobs running for eight to nine hours each day, while school runs for only six, and trying to find work that enables a sole parent to work suddenly looks very difficult indeed.

It’s Saturday now, and at last, everyone is well. With a bit of luck, I will get a whole clear week in the office before the school term ends on Friday. Fingers crossed….


* Working in paid employment
** Yes, this might create issues in many careers. As it turns out, in an academic career, I should be able to go back to fulltime work fairly easily once my children are old enough. Also, I no longer have a career. I just have a series of jobs which do well enough for the time being.

Earlier posts on the National Party’s policies for sole parents:

On housework, and paying other people to do it for me

Cross posted

In a column on what New Zealand’s public priorities ought to be, economist Brian Easton give a brief summary of the latent functions of work, as articulated by social psychologist Marie Jahoda.

That is because work is a socially valuable experience. It does not just pay us, but it has some latent social functions:

– Employment imposes a time structure on the working day:

– It involves regularly shared experiences and contacts with people outside the nuclear family:

– It links an individual to goals and purposes which transcend her or his own:

– It enforces activity.

….A quick summary is that we because we are social animals we are happy to work, for it gives us more than just income.

That all seems plausible to me, and it certainly explains at least some of the disconnection I experienced when we lived in Adelaide, where my work was irregular and not integrated into a particular workplace community. Easton uses the analysis to show why we need to do better with respect to managing unemployment, and why we need to change our attitudes towards the unemployed. If you are at all interested in New Zealand’s economic priorities, or in social justice, then Easton’s column is very much worth reading.

It’s the next thing that Easton says in his column that has had me thinking.

You will observe that housework is not quite as successful at covering the latent functions – as well as it is not paid – which may explain why it is unpopular.

Why, YES!

– Housework has no time structure, for it is always there, always waiting to be done, always able to be done. One cannot resolve to finish housework for the day, turn off the computer, leave the office and go home to relax, because home is the very site where housework occurs.
– Housework occurs within the nuclear family.
– Perhaps housework does link one to goals and purposes outside one’s own goals and purposes, in the sense that it helps to create an environment in which other people can thrive, but that seems to stretch the idea of transcendence a little far.
– But it does enforce activity. It’s just hard for me to see it as particularly enjoyable activity, ‘though I know that others differ in this regard.

I find it very, very hard to motivate myself to do housework, ‘though oddly enough, i find it easier to do so when I have to fit it in around my paid work. A quick 15 minutes here or there is not too difficult to manage. But 15 minutes here or there isn’t really enough to keep it all under control, especially when we are both in paid employment. So… we have outsourced the horrid work, and hired a cleaner.

And there’s the rub. I know that all of us have work preferences, that just as the thought of academic work might send you running for the hills, the thought of say, accounts work makes we want to crawl under my desk in despair. But it seems that most people loathe housework, and really, I don’t see why my cleaner would enjoy it any more than I do. Of course, he can lock the door and go home… to more housework. And he gets paid for the work, which must help. However he works on his own – no social structure around work for him. Just in and out of different houses, cleaning, with no one to share the work, no one to chat to, to sit down for a coffee break with.

I tend to try to be out of the house when our cleaner comes in, partly so that he doesn’t have to work around me, partly because even though academic work is flexible, I prefer to work in my office on campus, and partly because our current cleaner insists on chatting to me, so that I can’t get on with my own work, and partly because I always find it hard having tradies in my space (that would be my native curmudgeonliness and introversion coming out ). But I’ve just started to think that making an effort to be absent is unfair, and that if I am going to provide a decent work environment, then as well as making sure that he is fairly paid (we hire and pay for cleaners through a local company, which means that we can be sure that the workers are getting the going rate, and holiday pay and sick pay and so on), I ought to be open to making sure that some of those latent functions of work are served as well. I don’t think I need to make a special effort to stay home, but scuttling out as quickly as I can seems to be at least a little churlish.

Or maybe this is all just too middle-class-angst-ridden for words, and I should just get over it.


Previous writing on housework (as you can see this has been a bit of a touchstone issue for me over the years):
Dinosaurs thundering by again
Simone de Beauvoir on housework
We need a wife
Sharing the load

Making those slappers cross their legs

In a long foreshadowed move, the National government has announced that it will fund contraception for women on the DPB (Dependent Persons Benefit). It’s all part of their moves to make all those lazy solo mothers do some work for a change.

And on cue, the National party cheerleader-in-chief is saying that it’s a great move, and it’s all just about helping people to afford contraception.

Right…. and if you believe that, I’ve got a nice bridge to sell to you.

You see, they’re not offering free contraception, and they’re not offering it just to people on the DPB. They are offering long term contraceptive implants to women on the DPB and to their teenage daughters.

Women on benefits – including teenagers and the daughters of beneficiaries – will be offered free long-term contraception as part of a $287.5 million Budget package for the Government’s welfare reforms. (Source)

In other words, you and your slapper daughters better not breed any more of your type.

I think the National party has got a myth in its mind, of generations of women on the DPB, never trying to do anything to get off it, and just sponging on taxpayers instead. Never mind that those myths have been comprehensively debunked. The Nats know that they can’t sterilise the slappers, but they are doing the next best thing, and drugging them to achieve the same result.

I think it’s all about punishing women for having sex. One of the ways that we can see this is in the relentless focus on women. Where is the focus on men who have children and neglect to provide for them? Where is the long term contraceptive for men who father one child here and another there, and the shaming and demonising of men who have sex? There is none. It’s all about the women.

More than that, it’s about social engineering. I think that the Nats must have decided that there is a culture of DPBism out there, and they’re aiming to stamp it out by focusing on the children of sole mothers. I’ve got no problem with trying to effect long term cultural change through persuasion – witness the success of anti-smoking and anti-drink-driving campaigns, but this campaign looks very close to coercion to me. And that’s because of those overtones of dirty slappers.

So what might make this sort of measure acceptable? Perhaps the government might assist with funding a range of contraceptive choices, instead of just those long term implants. That would mean that the government was genuinely looking to assist women who wanted to do what human beings do and have sex, but at the same time wanted to be able to afford effective contraception. And that means contraception that works for the particular women and her body, not just a one-size-fits-all model. And it would make it available to all women below a certain income level, instead of targetting it towards sole parents and their teenage daughters.

On the positive side in Paula Bennett’s announcement, the Nats have realised that in order to enable sole parents to work, they will need to fund childcare. So they’ve come up with $80 million for that. But it’s not for all sole parents.

The Guaranteed Childcare Assistance Payment will be available to Young Parents receiving Assistance under the Youth Package who are meeting their obligations to participate in education, training or work-based learning under the youth package. It will also be available to young parents who are completing their secondary education, are not receiving a benefit and have a child aged under 5 years. This payment will provide up to $6.00 per hour for up to 50 hours a week for up to 52 weeks a year for a child to attend an approved ECE service. The cost of this initiative is $36.1 million over the next four years.

The Government has provided an additional $43.9 million to Vote Education to ensure extra ECE places are available. We anticipate a peak occurring during the next four years which will see the need for an additional 1155 additional Early Childhood Education places being required as a result of parents needing care for their children while they study.

(Source – National Party Q&A on the reforms – PDF)

Helping young parents who are trying to study is laudable. But it doesn’t help other sole parents. This back-to-work assistance needs to be more broadly focused. And then there’s the massive elephant in the room: where are the jobs? And not just any jobs. As I’ve said before:

So what is going to be required to make this happen? First up, there’s going to have to be a number of employers who are prepared to offer 15 hours work a week, during school hours. There’s no point in requiring sole parents to work 15 hours a week if no such jobs are available, so I’m assuming that National will be putting some sort of incentives in place to encourage the creation of such jobs.

Those jobs will need to be provided by employers who don’t mind too much if a worker works say, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday one week, and different days the next, in order to look after sick children, or to attend events at school (parent teacher interviews, school sports days, all the usual commitments that come with having kids at school). So the work will need to be very flexible.

And the work will have to be just in term time. Kids do need to be supervised in school holidays, or otherwise, as Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony Helen so fetchingly puts it, they will end up building meth-labs in the back yard.

But doing the hard yards to create flexible work environments that enable sole parents to work is just not nearly as much fun as hating on all those wretched women.

ETA: And I’m also catching a whiff of racism about this move, I think. Via Tallulah, in response to a comment I made at TLG, we know that 43% of DPB recipients are Maori, and 10% are Pacific Islanders. So over half of DPB recipients have brown skins. I think it’s not just about making the slappers keep their legs together. It’s also about stopping those brown people from breeding.

It will be interesting to see how the Maori Party reacts to this policy, given Maori Party leader Tariana Turia’s previous statements about young parents: one, two.

Earlier posts on the National Party’s policies for sole parents:

  • Get those sole parents working
  • Keeping its promises
  • I did it, so why can’t you?