Racist, sexist pay gap among New Zealand professors revealed in damning report

There are concerns the pay gap for Māori and Pacific academics is continuing to widen, according to a damning new report about earnings and promotions at New Zealand universities.

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Sereana Naepi was joined by co-author Moana Theodore on Breakfast to discuss their new report into a racist and sexist pay gap at New Zealand universities.

The study of 17,174 academics from New Zealand's eight universities examined ethnic and gender differences in promotions and earnings between 2003 and 2018.

It found Māori and Pacific female academics earned almost $8000 less on average than Caucasian men in 2018, with modelling showing the gap would increase over time.

Māori and Pacific academics were also far less likely to be promoted, irrespective of their research performance.

So, not only are Māori and Pacific academics severely under-represented in New Zealand universities, but many are clustered in the junior ranks of academia where jobs and incomes are more precarious, the study found. 

Sereana Naepi and Moana Theodore authored the report.

This morning, Naepi told TVNZ1's Breakfast what they discovered was frustrating, but also it was not something they didn't already know.

"We're not getting promoted, we're getting underpaid, we're under-represented and we're experiencing these things. It should not be happening," she said.

The Pacific academic said she was "sick of words", and is calling for national action into the professor pay gap.

"This is not new so something needs to happen on a national level, sector-wide that forces our universities to act," she said.

"We support Māori professors' letter that sort of said, 'Let's have a nationwide independent review and lets do this in the next 12 months, some really measurable outcomes, not nice fluffy feelings.'

"Let's do somehting. We've got the quantitaive data now — stop saying it's not a thing. Let's make a national committment to making sure our universities can be everything they say they are, which are spaces where everyone can be successful."

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The study found Māori and Pacific academics earned almost $8000 less on average than Caucasian men. Source: 1 NEWS

Universities are currently making decisions around restructures and freezing promotions and new hires as a result of Covid-19.

There are now concerns that changes due to restructuring could risk further widening the gap between Māori and Pacific and non-Māori/Pacific academics, which will have flow-on effects for years to come.