New Zealand, not surprisingly, is moving the needle faster than the U.S. on gender equity by changing the criteria that is actually used to measure pay equity.  The New York Times had a great piece yesterday that explains this further.  It’s all about the standards that we use.  Think Moneyball for equity.    Our traditional argument is that women should receive on equal pay for equal work.  Instead, we need to insist on equal pay for work of equal value.  That simple change can start to fix the problem of occupation segregation and really get at another underlying, often hidden, reason for pay inequity.  If we start to value things in this way, then the women who watch our children and parents will actually get paid more than the men who watch our cars as parking attendants. (This appalling statistic is courtesy of the U.S. Dept of Labor Statistics, 2018)
In New Zealand,
Instead of “equal pay for equal work,” supporters of pay equity call for “equal pay for work of equal value,” or “comparable worth.” They ask us to consider whether a female-dominated occupation such as nursing home aide, for instance, is really so different from a male-dominated one, such as corrections officer, when both are physically exhausting, emotionally demanding, and stressful — and if not, why is the nursing home aide paid so much less? In the words of New Zealand’s law, the pay scale for women should be “determined by reference to what men would be paid to do the same work abstracting from skills, responsibility, conditions and degrees of effort.”…

There are important efforts now underway — the push for a higher minimum wage, say, or more visibility for domestic workers — but they fail to address a deeper problem: The thing that so many of today’s most underpaid and essential workers have in common is simply that they are women. In America, where state support for gender equality has never been less robust, pay equity’s financial obligation will likely fall on individuals. Are we willing to pay more, say, at the grocery store, or to the home health aides who look after our elderly? Are we willing to re-examine the assumptions embedded in what we have been told are “free markets” for labor?

And that’s the question that we will be watching for as we see New Zealand forge ahead with real change.  Who knows that the Covid crisis here–and a change in administration–might bring to the U.S.