From a young women's perspective: Part 2

Mind the Gap: Nina


  • Workplace

Mindthegap NZ will launch a public pay gap registry in March 2022. Nearly 50 years on from the Equal Pay Act, three wahine say it’s time for change.

Part 2: Nina Santos is the delivery manager on the MindTheGap campaign. 

It’s infuriating to write a piece about the gender and ethnic pay gaps, something that shouldn’t even be a thing anymore in 2021. But the reality is that they still persist - and women of colour bear the brunt of it. As a young brown migrant nearing the end of her law degree and transitioning into full time work, I’ve mentally prepared myself for a slice of the pay gap pie. It sucks.

I’ve dreaded any talk about pay since I got my first job at 16, serving tables. I’ve grown to be an outspoken and confident woman who has landed jobs in the public and private sector and yet I still find it awkward to negotiate my pay (or be paid what I’m worth).

Several friends share the same experience. I’ve linked this to the lethal combo of imposter syndrome and the grateful migrant effect” (the feeling that you should appreciate the bare minimum because you’ve had even less in the past). I often find myself feeling like I shouldn't rock the boat too much and instead I should just be grateful for the opportunity.

’Imposter syndrome and the grateful migrant effect’

Asking for more is an uphill battle for a lot of women of colour due to the power imbalances and lack of bargaining power - it’s hard to ask even when we know we deserve it. The lack of pay transparency in most workplaces makes it even worse. No one really talks about what they’re getting paid so it’s hard to know if you have a decent offer or if you’re being low-balled.

Everyone entering the workforce in New Zealand should expect to be paid fairly for their work regardless of their gender or ethnicity. But as it stands, a grim 9.1 per cent pay gap awaits our young wāhine. It’s even worse for our Māori, Pasifika and ethnic communities who find themselves at the bottom of the pay hierarchy. And it’s not because we’re less ambitious or we work less. The pay gap is driven by a lot of factors including unconscious bias and discrimination.

As infuriated as I am, I also find myself on the cusp of something hopeful.

More people are speaking up about the pay gaps and time is ripe for change. The Mind the Gap campaign is calling for the Government to mandate gender and ethnic pay gap reporting in New Zealand - a simple yet huge step in the right direction. We know from overseas that when companies reveal their gaps to the public, they are more likely to work towards closing it. This is long overdue.

Women of colour deserve better and it’s about time we demand for equal pay. I understand how hard it is for some people to negotiate pay or push for advancement in their workplaces. So I’m asking , if you have the privilege and the platform to do so, please advocate for those who can’t.

This story was originally published on Stuff on November 7th 2021. Click here to see the original.

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The Mind the Gap campaign

We want an Aotearoa New Zealand where everyone is paid fairly for their work; where pay discrimination based on ethnicity, gender or ability no longer exists.

Read the other two parts of this series