Census of Women's Participation 2012

The New Zealand Census of Women’s Participation 2012, the fifth bench-marked report on how women fare in many areas of professional and public life was released by the Human Rights Commission in 2012.

The Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner at the time, Dr Judy McGregor, said the Census of Women’s Participation aimed to provide an evidential basis to the public debate.

View the report

The Census of Women’s Participation 2012 (Word)

Key Takeaway

The 2012 Census showed a two to three percentage point increase in many areas for the representation of women at senior levels since the previous census in 2010. However, women’s low representation at the top, despite increasing participation at entry levels, remained systemic and frustrating after 10 years of tracking the data.



  • Two of New Zealand’s markets, the NZSX top 100 and the New Zealand Debt Market (NZDX) have improved more than five percentage points from 2010
  • Recent appointments will lift the proportion of women as public service chief executives over 24 per cent
  • The Corrections Department tops major public service departments in ensuring the implementation of equal pay and pay equity
  • The New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants has taken a leadership role in urging its members to address gender pay differences
  • The NZX has agreed to a gender diversity rule.


  • Two companies in the top ten, Sky Network Television and TrustPower, have no women on their boards
  • The New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Defence Force have stalled in terms of women’s progress at the top
  • Twenty two government departments have gender pay gaps bigger than the average pay gap in the labour market
  • Nine government departments have more than a 20 per cent gender pay gap including Treasury and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Women are still less than 30 per cent of judges, less than 25 per cent of senior academic staff, and less than 20 per cent of top legal partnerships


The Census reports are published by the Commission as part of its statutory role to monitor human rights in New Zealand. The census informs the reporting of New Zealand obligations to meet the obligations of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Previous Reports