Breaking barriers — How New Zealand’s “pay equity” approach affects America


Photo Courtesy/ Pixabay aitoff

For centuries, and even in present-day, the gender pay gap has remained a difficult topic that many industries have ignored. Stereotypes and stigmas that taint the potential of a woman have stuck like glue for years, even as women continue to take on leadership positions today. No matter how many sacrifices or how much dedication is added to the equation, women continue to face  hardships that result from  unequal pay, declaring themselves and their families victims of gender discrimination. The ugly, dark truth is that capitalist America prefers to turn a blind eye, exhibiting a disregard for the female contributors of society. 

Just a few weeks ago, as many of us tuned in to watch the presidential election, New Zealand shifted its attention to an issue that has been looming for years — unequal pay in female-dominated professions. It would appear that New Zealand has officially put an end to gender pay discrimination, tucking away the injustices in history books. According to The New York Times, New Zealand legislators are assuming an approach known as “pay equity,” enabling them to fixate their focus on the problem of occupational segregation. Overall, the objective of this strategy is to standardize the pay for female-governed jobs and offer them the appropriate compensation for their services. Finding out that New Zealand passed the Equal Pay Act back in 1972 came as a surprise to me, and to discover that they’ve adjusted their legislature to fit circumstances, such as occupations that lowered the standard of pay for women, gives me pure joy and hope that the United States will someday progress in the same direction.

The United States has a lot of work to do in order to change the gender pay gap. To make matters worse, the repercussions of unequal pay increase exponentially based on race, adding on to the tower of institutionalized discrimination. Most importantly, the ongoing pandemic has demonstrated that essential workers are primarily women. Occupations such as food service workers, cleaners, nurses and cashiers are all occupations dominated by females, and yet, at least in the United States, their efforts are undervalued by the existing disparities in wages. Unfortunately, it would seem that it takes a pandemic to expose the injustices against marginalized groups and acknowledge the hidden heroes among us.