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Gender equality in New Zealand – fact rather than fiction

Gender equality in New Zealand – fact rather than fiction

Bridging the growing gap - Raising the Bar: Women in Law and Business by Natalya King

Wellington, December 2, 2014

New Zealand has just returned the worst annual result in the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report since its launch nine years ago. The country has slipped six place ranks from last year to score 13th out of the 142 countries reported on.

This result contradicts the commonly held and widely cherished illusion that New Zealand is leading the way towards gender equality. Investigating the reality, Natalya King’s recently released book Raising the Bar: Women in Law and Business exposes that comfortable belief of equality as a disappointing fiction. “All men and women are equal” now has a proven caveat: “but men are more equal than women in the important areas; pay and promotion.”

In Raising the Bar, Natalya systematically assesses the current situation for women working in law and professional services, identifying key issues while focusing on what needs to change and how to start making that happen. She draws on international research to explain the societal benefits of gender diversity, and, in particular, how diversity within a business increases profit and productivity. Including real-life stories from survey participants and guidelines from New Zealand’s most successful companies, the book is a reflection and a blueprint for positive change.

A lawyer who has worked in a major law firm and in the legal team for a leading bank, author Natalya King was driven by a proactive desire to understand the slowing to stagnation of what had been a progressive attitude toward genuine gender equality. As Dr Jackie Blue (Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner) has observed, “what is remarkable is that this book has been written by a recent university law graduate who is at the beginning of her career. One would normally expect to see a book which challenges the status quo to be written by someone in the middle or latter part of their career, who after observing and experiencing biases and barriers felt compelled to confront the situation.”

It is New Zealand’s shame the country is neither progressing nor maintaining gender equality in the global field. Not one of those who fought to make New Zealand the first to give women the vote would expect such dismal progress 101 years on. We may have been world leaders once, but not anymore.


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