This is the profession with the widest gender pay gap in NZ

The legal profession has the widest gender pay gap out of any other in a new nationwide survey that shows a yawning divide between what male and female lawyers are paid.

Data from the survey, released by employment website YUDU, showed men are paid more than women across every industry, bar one.

The national gender pay gap was officially put at 12 per cent in 2016 and had been stubbornly static for more than a decade.


Statistics NZ data showed it had dropped slightly last year to 9.4 per cent, but in some professions, the gap remains significantly wider.

Data from YUDU's survey of 4000 New Zealanders, conducted by global research company Kantar, found the largest gap was in the legal profession.

The median salary for men working in the industry was $128,250 compared with $66,454 for women - a difference of $61,796.

The pay range for the legal industry was also much lower for women - $30,506 to $144,924 compared with $59,294 to $276,409 for men.

New Zealand Law Society president Kathryn Beck acknowledged there was a pay gap in the profession, although she did not believe it was as stark as that seen in the survey results.

Beck said the Law Society was intending to do its own survey to get data from across all levels the profession but said that the fact there was any gap was "unacceptable".

"We do definitely have a gap. From information we've seen in the past it appears we don't have a gap at the beginning of careers but the gap starts at year one to two," Beck said.

Having more women in leadership positions in the law would help close the gap and also work to address sexual harassment issues in the profession, she said.

Public policy researcher Jess Berentson-Shaw said the survey results may have been impacted by sorting of roles based on gender within the legal sector.

"Some of the difference in range will be that most of the admin staff will be female, and you will probably find most of the partners will be male so there is a sorting of what type of roles happen in the legal profession based on gender," she said.

Of the 28 categories in the YUDU survey, the median pay for women was higher in just one - transport, shipping and logistics. In this category, median pay for women was $5,266 more than men.

The transport and logistics industries have typically been male-orientated and have struggled to attract women, which may have impacted on the results.

Across the 4000 participants, the median salary paid to women was $50,863 versus the $64,687 paid to men.

The industry with the smallest gap between median incomes was consulting, with men on $82,575 compared to $79,825 for women.

The primary industries, administration and sales and marketing industries also had smaller pay gaps, with wider gaps seen in real estate and property, engineering, science and accounting categories.

Berentson-Shaw said the gap could also be attributed to the overall pay scale of an industry.

"We do know gender pay gaps don't seem to be as much of a problem in lower-paid industries," she said.

"So because there is less room for discretionary pay decisions in lower paid industries, the gendered nature of differentials can't come out, so if you have people working near or just above the minimum wage there is very little room for people's bias to have an impact on wage."

In a study published by the Ministry of Women last year research showed almost 80 per cent of the divide was driven by factors that were hard to measure, including conscious and unconscious bias and different choices and behaviours between men and women.

The report also found that for women on lower incomes, family responsibilities, education and age remained important factors in the pay gap.

YUDU is owned by NZME, publisher of the New Zealand Herald.

This article was originally published on NZ Herald and is reproduced here with permission.