Some features of our website won't work with Internet Explorer. Improve your experience by using a more up-to-date browser like Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.
Skip to content
LearningExplore this section

Definitions of key gender equality terms

Book resources on aspects of the fight for Women's equality.

Here are some definitions of key terms related to gender inequality in the workplace.


The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

Domestic work

The sort of work that is typically done in the home, such as cooking, cleaning, and caring for children, sick people, and the elderly. Many people do this sort of work professionally, for example, hospitality workers, cleaners, and care workers such as Kristine Bartlett.


The socially constructed characteristics of women and men — such as norms, roles, and relationships of and between groups of women and men. Ideas about gender vary from society to society and can be changed. While most people are born either male or female, they are taught appropriate norms and behaviours — including how they should interact with others of the same or opposite sex within households, communities, and work places. (Definition from the World Health Organisation)

Gender equality

The rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of individuals do not depend on whether they are male or female. It implies that the perceptions, interests, needs, and priorities of women and men will be given equal weight in planning and decision-making.

Gender equity

The process of allocating resources, programmes, and decision-making fairly to both males and females without any discrimination on the basis of sex and addressing any imbalances in the benefits available to males and females.

Gender pay gap

The difference between women and men’s hourly pay. For example, in 2016, the gender pay gap in Aotearoa New Zealand was 12%. This means that in 2016, on average, men in New Zealand earned 12% more per hour than women. This statistic is based on the median rates of hourly pay for women and men in full- and part-time work, so it doesn’t reflect the amounts earned by top salary earners.

Gender pay gap — Ministry for Women has up-to-date information on the gender pay gap and its causes.

Labour force/workforce

The total number of people in a country or area who are in the paid workforce or actively looking for work.

Occupational segregation

The distribution of people across and within occupations and jobs, based upon demographic characteristics, most often gender.


The right to vote in an election.

Unconscious biases

Social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness.

Back to top