An Exploration of the Gender Pay Gap in the Hospitality Industry in New Zealand

Zhang, Lutong
Mooney, Shelagh
Harkison, Tracy
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Master of International Hospitality Management
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Auckland University of Technology

Women in New Zealand have been seeking equal pay for almost 60 years, and research on the gender pay gap has become an important part of research on gender equality, and is consistent with goals around sustainable development. Previous studies have identified some of the causes of the gender pay gap in general, but few have specifically investigated whether these causes are applicable to the hospitality industry. Therefore, this study explores the history of the gender pay gap and contributory factors in the hospitality industry in New Zealand.

Secondary data were collected from three main sources: relevant hospitality reports, empirical studies, and official websites and government reports over a ten-year period. The findings revealed five main themes: 1) the facts of the gender pay gap, 2) women’s lower capital value, 3) occupational segregation, 4) women’s choice of flexible working hours without career paths, and 5) discrimination in the labour market. Although various laws and policies state that a gender pay gap is illegal, it still exists in New Zealand both in the past and at present. In the labour market, women’s capital is devalued; even if women have higher educational qualifications than men, they still earn less overall. Occupational segregation, which is the distribution of workers across and within occupations mostly based on gender (Blau & Kahn, 2006), is both vertical and horizontal as discussed in this study. The findings show that more women (e.g. professionals, community and personal service workers and administrators) are segregated into the service sector, and more men (e.g. managers, technicians and tradesmen, machinery operators and drivers) are segregated into the construction, manufacturing and transportation sectors.

In the service sector, women are typically found working in lower paid and lower skilled roles, such as in accommodation and food and beverages (F&B) service, and in hospitality, generally in cleaning work. Men are typically found working in managerial positions, financial and business development roles, and as maintenance and construction workers.

Occupational segregation also affects women’s promotion opportunities. Women are segregated into feminised jobs such as housekeeping, which offers flexible hours that fit around school times, suiting those with child care responsibilities. Marital status affects women’s career choices, as they may choose jobs compatible with caregiving responsibilities; hence, women often work in housekeeping, and in low-paid roles without career paths. Aside from these reasons for the gender pay gap, discrimination in the labour market is also an important factor.

Gender pay gap , New Zealand , Women , hospitality
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