New Zealanders have high awareness of gender inequality, research finds

New Zealanders have high awareness that more needs to be done to get equality for women, research released by the National Council of Women of New Zealand says.

The survey of 500 people found only 32 per cent of New Zealanders believe men and women are ‘treated equally’ in business, while 46 per cent felt there was equal treatment in the workplace.

Health (72 per cent) and education (68 per cent) systems were seen to have the most gender equality, followed by the courts and the justice system (59 per cent), social settings (57 per cent) and government policies and programmes (54 per cent).

Just over one-half (55 per cent) said New Zealand does ‘better on gender equality’ than most other developed countries. Yet there is still an underlying belief that men have ‘more opportunities’ than women in a range of settings, including the armed forces, politics, professional sport, the workplace and in senior management.

The most common reasons respondents gave for men having more opportunities than women were ’traditional or historical factors relating to NZ society’, ‘women’s gender roles limit their opportunities’ and ‘it’s a man’s world’.

National Council of Women of New Zealand Chief Executive Sue McCabe said the public response reflected awareness of the official statistics showing women faced a gender pay gap; were underrepresented in leadership and management roles, and that we have one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the OECD.

“Days away from celebrating 122 years since women achieved suffrage, our gender equality story remains patchy. We’ve made huge progress in many areas but serious issues still persist.

“We find the survey results promising in that New Zealanders are aware we still have work to do. It was also reassuring to see that the biggest reason people gave for inequality was a historical one, showing we need to shake our more sexist past off and move forward. We encourage all New Zealanders to do what they can to help women have political, economic and social equality.

“Actions everyone can take include refraining from making sexist comments and assumptions about people based on their gender. We challenge people to call out sexist language and behaviour when they see it. These are small steps people can take that will help progress gender equality.”


The National Council of Women of New Zealand thanks Research New Zealand, who undertook the research for the council on a pro bono basis.

Download the research report (pdf).

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