Gender Pay and Conditions Gaps in New Zealand Universities

Fiona Te Momo, Massey University
Dr. Fiona Te Momo
Negar Partow, Massey University - LinkedIn
Dr. Negar Partow

On the 18th of July, the NCWNZ Education Action Hub hosted two vibrant speakers informing members about gender gaps in New Zealand academia. They were Associate Professor Dr. Fiona Te Momo (lecturer at the School of Māori Knowledge), and Dr. Negar Partow (senior lecturer in Security Studies), both from Massey University, Albany, New Zealand. Both also chair Ethics Committees at their universities.

Negar explained that the gender gap in universities generally is hundreds of years old, since originally universities were structured for men’s needs (Perez, 2019). Today, in New Zealand, men have more than double the chance than women to be promoted to professor status from a similar research baseline and have a $400,000 lifetime gender pay gap. Women are cited and published less than men, are not being included in research, and women employees are often delegated to pastoral and service work (Brower & James, 2020; Walker, Sin, Macinnis-Ng, Hannah, & McAllister, 2020). Negar suggested that to improve, universities need to focus on blind hiring, distance themselves from centralising the power of hiring and promotion in middle management, work around the ‘glass ceiling,’ facilitate women’s opportunities for networking and institute an independent process for monitoring workload and promotion processes.

Fiona stated that Māori women have a 65% lower chance of being promoted (McAllister, Kokaua, Naepi, Kidman, & Theodore, 2020). She emphasised that the workload for Māori women was further complicated by their often understated role to manage bicultural and cultural competency programmes in universities i.e. they have to fulfil double expectations as both non-Māori and Māori women (Stewart, 2021). She also referred to recent government statistics on pay gaps (StatsNZ, 2022), with New Zealand European women earning 9.1% less than males, while Māori and Pasifika rates fall significantly below New Zealand Europeans (10.1% and 14.4% respectively) and more so for their women (14% and 20.5% retrospectively).

Fiona identified that by speaking up, Māori women faced being classed as troublemakers, being isolated and patronised. Māori women could be intellectually disrespected for their areas of expertise and delegated to supportive roles or cultural duties. She saw slow future roads to change, using persistence, awareness-raising and female collaboration, stating “The troublemakers of today and the policy makers of tomorrow.”

Finally, Negar described a research initiative in which they planned to identify gender bias in research, using the minutes from ethics applications from the eight New Zealand universities from 2019-22, plus an anonymous survey to ethics committee members to ascertain gender bias. The presentations were followed by discussion.

Notes above and the following references gathered by Geraldine Anne McCarthy:

  • Brower, A., & James, A. (2020). Research performance and age explain less than half of the gender pay gap in New Zealand universities. PLoS One, 15(1) e0226392
  • McAllister, T. G., Kokaua, J., Naepi, S., Kidman, J., & Theodore, R. (2020). Glass ceilings in new Zealand universities: Inequities in Mäori and Pacific promotions and earnings. Mai: New Zealand Journal of Indigenous Scholarship, 9(3), 272-285. DOI: 10.20507/MAIJournal.2020.9.3.8
  • Perez, C. C. (2019). Invisible Women: Exposing data bias in a world designed for men: Vintage.
  • StatsNZ. (2022). Gender and ethnic pay gaps: Stats NZ's action plan 2021/2022. Retrieved from
  • Stewart, G. T. (2021). Academic-Māori-woman: The impossible may take a little longer. In Routledge (Ed.), Educational Philosophy and Theory (pp. 1-6).
  • Walker, L., Sin, I. S., Macinnis-Ng, C., Hannah, K., & McAllister, T. (2020). Where to from here? Women remain absent from senior academic positions at Aotearoa New Zealand’s Universities. Education Sciences, 10(6), 152. doi:10.3390/educsci10060152

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