Gender Pay Gap vs. Equal Pay: What’s the Difference?

On 19th September this year we celebrated the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. To mark the occasion we created and shared a video on a subject that is important to gender equality in 2018: how to fix the gender pay gap.

It is clear from some of the conversations we have had about the video that there is still, understandably, a lot of confusion between the gender pay gap, pay equity and equal pay. So we’ve put together a mini cheat sheet that defines each of these with a quick ‘good to know’ note.


Equal PayEqual Pay

Men and women paid the same amount for doing the same work.

Good to know:

A legal requirement in New Zealand since 1972.




Pay EquityPay Equity

Men and women paid the same for doing work of equal value.

Good to know:

In 2012 care worker Kristine Bartlett made an historic claim, based on the Equal Pay Act 1972, that there was systemic undervaluation of care and support work because it was mainly performed by women. 

A settlement was negotiated out of court and in July 2017 the Care and Support Worker (Pay Equity) Settlement Act came into effect. Care workers received pay rises of between 15 and 50% depending on their qualifications and experience.


The Gender Pay Gap

The difference in the median hourly earnings of men and women across all roles.

Good to know:

Currently 9.2% (as at 24 September 2018).

A huge number of factors contribute to the gender pay gap, from overt bias and discrimination through to education, hours worked, work experience and choice of occupation.

Many of these latter reasons can be attributed, at least in part, to our historical structures and social conditioning.

e.g. Many of us are conditioned from a young age to expect women to do the bulk of the childcare and housework.

e.g. Girls are often steered away from higher earning roles in STEM fields (even if unintentionally).

It is impossible to place a figure on how much of the gender pay gap comes down to bias and discrimination, as so often these attitudes and behaviours are due to unconscious bias.