Catherine Delahunty

No Minister, it’s not getting better for women

by Catherine Delahunty

On Tuesday I asked the Minister of Women’s Affairs whether she was happy with the progress towards her goals of getting more women into leadership positions and closing the gender pay gap. She had to dance around a bit because no one could be happy with the evidence as presented in the 2010 Census of Women’s Participation, released by the Human Rights Commission this week.

The gender pay gap in the public sector is a bad joke.

According to the census, seven government departments have massive gender pay gaps of 24 percent or more; i.e on average they pay their male staff more than 24 percent more than their female staff.

These departments are: the Department of Building and Housing, the State Services Commission, the Crown Law Office, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Defence. Send them an email and let them know what you think of this if you’re so inclined!

One that really shocked me is the Minister’s own Ministry of Women’s Affairs. 82 percent of MWA staff are women but they still pay female staff on average 7.8 percent less than their male staff. At the Ministry of Women’s Affairs! Go figure.

I was also surprised that the Ministry of Education had a 30 percent gender pay gap, given how many teachers are women.

The Ministry of Defence was less surprising, as was the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet – I guess that’s just how John and the team like it.

And out of 35 government departments, only five are led by women.

I asked the Minister if she would support the Agenda for Change outlined at the end of the census, and join a cross party forum to advance women’s progress inside and outside Parliament. The answer was “no” unless the Agenda for Change fitted with her Ministry’s existing priorities.

So my advice to all you wonderful women? Read the Census of Women’s Participation, and don’t just get mad, get even!