Is NZ a great country for working women?

Kiwis have a strong history of gender equality, but does it translate to the workplace in 2019?

Is NZ a great country for working women?

International Women’s Day (IWD) is fast approaching (8 March), inspiring Finder to compare 16 countries across 10 metrics to determine which nation is the best country for working women.

It found that New Zealand ranked 12th place overall. Even though Kiwis have a strong history of gender equality (it was the first all-governing country to allow all women to vote in parliamentary elections), they performed poorly as a great place to work as a woman when compared to other top countries.

Compared to the other countries, NZ did not score well for job security, female representation in boardrooms, the amount of retirement funds women have compared to men, and maternity leave.

But it wasn’t all bad news. Of the 16 countries included, New Zealand has the second highest participation rate of women in the workforce and it also has one of the smallest gender pay gaps.

Moreover, New Zealand beat Australia for maternity leave benefits, with Kiwis enjoying 22 weeks of paid maternal and parental leave, compared to Australia’s 18 weeks. This gap will widen next year, with maternity leave benefits in New Zealand set to increase to 26 weeks from July 2020.

Kiwi’s also have a slightly better deal than Aussies for cost of living, ranking sixth place for this metric, compared to eighth place for Australia.

Additionally, it had the smallest gender wage gap (5.73%) of the 16 countries included, the smallest disparity of unpaid household hours completed by men and women (6.3 hours per week), and one of the smallest retirement savings gaps (10-20%).

Overall, New Zealand ranked above Singapore, which took out the bottom spot. Singaporeans are expected to put in long hours, working an average of 45 hours a week! It also ranked poorly for the gender pay gap and maternity leave.

Here are the overall rankings:
1. Denmark
2. Norway
3. Finland
4. Sweden
4. Austria (equal 4th with Sweden)
6. Germany
7. Ireland
8. France
9. Canada
10. Netherlands
11. United Kingdom
12. Iceland
12. New Zealand (equal 12th with Iceland)
14. Australia
15. United States
16. Singapore

New Zealand’s rankings across every metric



Labour force participation rate


Gender wage gap


Cost of living


Average working hours


Holiday leave


Extra household hours compared to men


Maternity leave


Retirement funds compared to men


Female representation in board rooms


Job security



Related stories:
It’s a Rainbow Tick for Aurecon’s LGBTI+ programme
Revealed: Top causes of discrimination at work

Recent articles & video

How did COVID impact New Zealand recruitment?

What's holding staff back from vaccines?

Employees divided over business incentives to be vaccinated against COVID-19

HR for hire: Job openings on the rebound

Most Read Articles

Why Gen Z will change the way we work

NSW expands list of COVID-19 exposure sites

Blended learning: Best practices in the workplace