University average gender pay gap almost 14%

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
The University of Otago has acknowledged it still has work to do after a report found it pays men on average almost 14% more than women.

The university’s first report on Gender and Ethnicity Pay Gaps, released to the Otago Daily Times, showed the median gender pay gap (based on hourly pay) is 8.7%, sightly higher than the median New Zealand wide figures of 8.6%.

The average gender pay gap at the institution is 13.7%.

Acting vice-chancellor Prof Helen Nicholson said the university was determined to share the information with staff and the public out in the open.

"This transparency is part of the university’s be an employer of choice, known for delivering on its commitments to workplace diversity and inclusively, fair remuneration and the wellbeing and professional development of our staff.

"It clearly shows there is work to be done, for and with our staff, to narrow any differences in pay across gender and ethnicity, at all levels and pay scales, but particularly at senior levels where it is more pronounced."

Jo Cribb advocates for Mind the Gap, a group which campaigns to close pay gaps and encourage pay gap reporting.

She was pleased with the thoroughness and openness of the university’s report.

"Not all institutions have produced pay gap reports of this authority, and we should really celebrate the university doing so."

However, she said there was still much work to do.

The university could "interrogate" as to why there were gender pay gaps, and whether there were any "barriers to women progressing" in higher-paid roles, she said.

"It’s great that they have an action list of ways to address the gaps, but the fact is the gaps still exist.

"There is an over-representation of women in low salary bands [at the University] and an under-representation of women in high salary bands."

As of mid-2023, about 62% of university staff, including casual staff, were women, and 37% were men, the report said.

Ms Cribb said there was also a concern that the pay gap was much higher for Pacific peoples (15.8%) than other ethnic groups.

"In some cases, you wonder whether there could be aspects of their employment that are not valued as highly.

"For instance, many female Pacific staff play a key role in pastoral care and mentoring of Pacific students.

"That’s probably recognised, but maybe it isn't recognised as much as the volume of publications and research papers."

Gender and ethnicity pay gaps are measured using hourly or salary pay data to assess how well organisations are providing equality of opportunity, using pay as the best proxy for seniority.

Ms Cribb said it was important to see the people behind the numbers.

"If you look at the difference, you can do the maths about how much less ability you have to feed your families or choose where you live.

"It is absolutely a measure of a family or person’s ability to make choices."

Prof Nicholson said it was important to note that casual staff, which included students who work in their residential colleges or in their cafes, had been included in the analysis.

However, contractors and clinical lecturers and senior medical officers employed by Te Whatu Ora have been excluded.

The analysis in the ethnicity section had also been impacted as only half of our staff have reported their ethnicity in our database, so the results are therefore considered indicative only.

The median ethnic pay gap variations were in groups of: Māori (-0.2%), Pacific (15.8%), Asian (8.6%), Middle Eastern / Latin American / African, (0.0%), European (-4.2%), and Other (-16.0%).

The report said actions would include forming a pay gap steering group, reviewing affirmative action and good employer policies, and requiring divisions to report to the vice-chancellor on what actions they have done to close the gap.