Making use of women’s skills is key to New Zealand’s future

  • Hekia Parata
Women's Affairs

The Government is urging women to put themselves forward for business leadership roles, says the Minister of Women’s Affairs Hekia Parata.

In a speech to “HER Business Network”  in Wellington today, the Minister said New Zealand has to make better use of women’s skills and experience if it is going to significantly lift productivity.

“Tapping more effectively into women’s potential is one of the keys to New Zealand’s future growth and prosperity.

“The single largest contribution to New Zealand’s improved productivity in the past 30 years has come from women’s increased labour market participation, but we are still a long way from making best use of women’s skills in the economy and in leadership.’’

Ms Parata said around two thirds of university graduates are now women.

“But there is evidence that women graduates are paid less than male graduates and do not get promoted as quickly. This is not only unfair, it also represents missed opportunities for the businesses concerned and a waste of part of the huge taxpayer investment in higher education.

“Similarly, we are not making enough of women’s leadership skills and experience.  For instance, 57 of the top 100 publicly listed companies do not have a single woman on their boards, despite evidence that companies with women on boards tend to be significantly more profitable than those with few or no women.’’

Ms Parata said the Government has recognised the need for more women in leadership roles.

She said the Ministry of Women’s Affairs is doing some practical things to help board-ready women find suitable governance roles, including producing a unique interactive self-assessment tool called “My Board Strengths” which will be officially launched next week.  You will be able to access the tool through the Ministry’s website

Some facts and figures

Women & the economy


More than half the adult population is female.


Around two thirds of university graduates are women. In 2009, 56 per cent of business and management graduates were women.


More than a third of women work part time. In contrast, 12 percent of men work part time.

9th & 24th

NZ is 9th in the OECD for women’s labour market participation, but women aged 30 to 35 (the most common age for having a first child) have a lower labour force participation rate. In this age group we are 24th in the OECD.


The pay gap – on average, women are paid around 11% less than men.  The pay gap has closed slightly in the past two years, but more progress is needed.


The percentage of plumbers, builders and electricians who are women. 

Women in leadership


The percentage of women directors on the top 100 publicly listed companies. This is despite evidence that companies with more women on their boards (and more diversity generally) are more profitable on average than companies with few or no women.


The percentage of women on state sector boards and committees in 2010 – down slightly from 2009. 


The percentage of women MPs at the 2008 election – high by international standards, but increasing slowly.