THE NUMBER of women in Christchurch earning more than $100,000 a year has more than doubled over the past 10 years.
But they represent three per cent of working women, significantly fewer than the 12 per cent of working men earning more than $100,000.
The Statistics New Zealand figures, released this week, compare work and incomes in the 2013 census to those recorded in 2006.
They show a big difference in incomes across genders, even in female-dominated industries.
Women made up 78 per cent of health professionals working in Christchurch at the time of the census.
But six per cent of them earned more than $100,000, compared with 46 per cent of male health professionals.
The education industry was also female dominated, with women making up 74 per cent of education professionals.
The majority of men in the industry, 52 per cent, earned more than $70,000, compared with 22 per cent of women.
Some put the gap down to the fact women were more likely to take time off or work part time because they were raising children, Pay Equity Challenge Coalition spokeswoman Angela McLeod said.
But she believed that was only a minor factor.
“There are a lot of men who want flexible hours, to spend time with their children or for all sorts of different reasons, and the figures show men working part-time roles still earn more than women working parttime. There is a structural discrimination.”
She said employers were becoming more aware of the issue and attitudes were changing, but there was still an “unconscious or conscious discrimination”.
The majority of chief executives, general managers and legislators in Christchurch were men, and 41 per cent of those earned more than $100,000, compared with 18 per cent of women in the roles.
There were similar statistics in male-dominated industries like construction, where four per cent of women working in the trade earned more than $70,000, compared with 11 per cent of men.
Women in the Rebuild founder Michelle MacWilliam said it was a story she heard constantly from women in the group.
Women had a “hard row to hoe” in male-dominated trades, and it was even more difficult for single parents or ethnic minorities, she said.
That could have far-reaching consequences, she said.
“If there’s a pay disparity, when a woman gets to the later years of her life she will have had less opportunity to save for her retirement, and she’s also more likely to live longer than the average man.”
There are more than 1000 women in the group, and many who had left jobs to start their own businesses said a gender pay gap at their former workplace was a factor in their decision.
But that contributed to a strong small-business culture, and many of them were thriving, she said.
“There has been a great uptake in women going into the business, because they see it as a way of securing their financial future, their independence and work life balance,” she said.
New Zealand was ranked 13th in the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index last year, behind much of Europe but ahead of Australia, which was ranked 24.
The index shows the average income for a woman in New Zealand was $30,982 per year, compared with an average of $50,631 for men.