9 to 5: Women Have a Leg Up in New Zealand

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It rocks to be a woman in New Zealand.

Duh, you’re probably saying. There are fluffy sheep everywhere you look. The people have friendly accents. It’s the real freaking Shire!

Yes, we agree. These things are great.

But New Zealand is also one of the best places in the world to be a working woman.


According to The Economist’s “glass ceiling index,” women in New Zealand score high when it comes to whether they’re treated equally at work. The magazine looked at a bunch of factors including how much women earn compared to men, the percentage of women who pursue higher education and the labor-force participation rate.

New Zealand came out on top. Here’s a look at why:

1. They Work

Yes, you're thinking, women need to work in order to be treated equally at work. But that's not a given in many countries. According to the country’s Ministry of Women's Affairs, women have a 63 percent labor force participation rate. While the rate is higher for men at 74.5 percent, the rate for women is much higher than in many other countries. For comparison, it’s about 58 percent in the United States.

2. They're in Board Rooms


While occupational segregation - when men and women work in fields where the vast majority of workers are the same gender - remains an issue and may account for some of the lingering wage gap, women hold about 30 percent of senior management positions in New Zealand businesses. That’s relatively high compared to most other developed countries. Women also make up more than a third of the nation’s parliament. And as National Geographic pointed out, women in New Zealand have been able to serve in all of the country’s defense units since 2001, a move that sparked a positive shift in the way society views women.

3. They Earn (Relatively) More


More women in board rooms means more women earning high salaries than in many other countries. Broadly, this means that New Zealand women fare better than women in most other countries when it comes to how much they earn in relation to men in the country. The gender pay gap is about 10 percent, according to the government, which is much lower than most other countries. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the average gap is about 17 percent.

4. They're in College


More than half of the nation pursues some form of higher education, and a greater percentage of women than men hold a bachelors degree or more.

5. They're Getting Attention


Maori women, the country's indigenous population, have traditionally lagged other women in New Zealand when it comes to higher education and employment. But they have made gains in recent years.

“While still behind European women, Māori women’s outcomes have greatly improved over recent years on a number of key indicators,” according to the government. “These include improvements in the number of Māori women leaving school with at least NCEA level two, participation in tertiary education, an increased participation in the labour force, and significant improvements in health outcomes.”


Check back next week for another installment. There's always someplace it either rocks or sucks to be a woman.

Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.