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Women could earn more in male-dominated trades

Women could earn more in male-dominated trades

Women could be on average $15,000-a-year better off if they went into male-dominated trades instead of more traditional female-dominated occupations, according to research released today by Minister of Women’s Affairs Lianne Dalziel.

Speaking at the centenary celebrations for the Wellington and Hutt YWCA, Lianne Dalziel said the research showed wages for qualified, experienced staff were much higher in male-dominated trade-related occupations than in female-dominated occupations. This would not necessarily be obvious to young people making career decisions because starting wages tended to be similar, she said.

"As part of its mandate to improve the economic independence of New Zealand women, the government wants to ensure that information on wages and the costs of education and training in a range of occupations is available, so that young people are able to make informed choices about careers," Lianne Dalziel said.

The Ministry of Women’s Affairs commissioned the research to provide a preliminary indication on wages and costs of education or training in a range of occupations, including hairdressing, plumbing and administration. Findings included:
wages in traditionally male-dominated occupations, for those who are qualified and have some experience, are just over 45 per cent higher than in traditionally female-dominated occupations i.e. annual full-time wages of $50,000 and $34,000 respectively based on median hourly rates of $24 for male-dominated and $16.50 for female-dominated occupations; starting wages are generally the same in male- and female-dominated occupations, and therefore future wage differences would not necessarily be evident to people entering these fields; training costs in male-dominated occupations are largely paid for by employers rather than employees, which is seldom the case for female-dominated occupations.

Lianne Dalziel said the research tended to overstate the rates paid in the female-dominated occupations as experienced hairdressers and travel agents were more likely to have a commission component which increased considerably the top of the range. "Gender-based occupational segregation is a key area of work for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, as this is one of the factors that causes the gender pay gap." Lianne Dalziel said.

Recent data on the pay gap indicates that while the gap is slowly decreasing, women’s median hourly earnings are still 12 percent less than men’s. While many women have now moved into professional occupations that were previously male-dominated, this has not been the case in trade-related occupations.

"This is the kind of information that I believe all young people should know about before they make the decision about what field to enter," Lianne Dalziel said.

The Minister outlined the next steps in relation to this work, which included:

assessing the extent to which young people want and will use information on earnings to decide what types of work to enter, i.e. whether it affects the decisions they make;

ensuring the Modern Apprenticeship scheme is accessible for young women, as well as other under-represented groups; and

assessing whether gender-based occupational segregation results in economic impacts, such as on productivity levels and the responsiveness of the labour market to skill shortages.

The full research findings will be available on the Ministry of Women's Affairs website: www.mwa.govt.nz at 6pm.


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