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Median wage for NZ women in forestry higher than men

Forestry and mining workers’ wage growth has been tumultuous over the years, yet in the wake of the global financial crisis the median wage for women spiked. Source: Stuff NZ

The pay gap between men and women in the industries has been more fluid than in most.

Forestry and mining are the only sectors in New Zealand where the median wage for women had historically exceeded that of men.

From 2006 to 2010, women workers’ median wage was significantly higher than men, data from Statistics New Zealand found. At its highest, the median wage for women was nearly NZ$3 higher than the median wage for men in early 2009.

Recently, the difference has been smaller. The median hourly salary for females in the industry last recorded as NZ$33.67 and the equivalent for males at NZ$32.31.

Financial and insurance services, health care and social assistance showed much wider gaps between the median hourly wages of women and men.

New Zealand Institute of Forestry general manager Tim Thorpe said there was lots of wood coming onstream from plantings in the 1990s and a shortage of skilled workers at harvesting sites.

In mid-2014, the median hourly wage for men in the finance and insurance sector was nearly NZ$20 higher than the equivalent for women.

The gap has shrunk since then to about NZ$14 but it is still far wider than any other industry in New Zealand.

New Zealand Institute of Forestry general manager Tim Thorpe said he was surprised that the forestry industry had the best wage parity between genders.

“People think of forestry being just out there in the bush and the key image is people felling trees and that sort of thing, but you’ve got scientists working in the sector, marketing professionals, and that could be areas where there are more female employees earning higher wages.”