The Department of Corrections is acknowledging International Women’s Day 2019 by celebrating an all-time high number of women working for the organisation, and an all-time low gender pay gap.
“Women now represent 48 percent of our total workforce. In just over a decade we’ve seen a 67 percent increase in the number of female staff working across all areas of Corrections. While total staff numbers have also increased by over 30 percent during the same period of time, the increase in the number of women is significant,” says Rachel Leota, National Commissioner.
“Working in a male prison was traditionally regarded as ‘men’s work’. A training programme that operated for aspiring officers in the 1960’s and 1970’s was only available to men, and it wasn’t until 1985 that Celia Lashlie became the first woman to work in a men’s prison.”
“Today, there are 1,177 women working as corrections officers in our prisons, with 857 of these women working in men’s prisons. We have six prisons managed by a female Prison Director, last year 57 percent of new frontline staff were women, there’s been a 91 percent increase in the number of women working as probation officers since 2008 and today 47 percent of senior leaders in the organisation are women.”
The recent appointment of Christine Stevenson as Corrections’ interim Chief Executive means that women also make up half of the organisation’s executive leadership team.
“All of these women come to work every day to share their skills, knowledge and experiences to keep New Zealanders safe and help offenders to change their lives – we’re a stronger organisation for having them here.”
Corrections has also made a significant difference in closing the gender pay gap. The gender pay gap across the organisation today is just 1.37 percent, significantly lower than the public sector average of 12 percent.
“We’ve put a huge emphasis on attracting a diverse range of talent to join our ranks over the past few years. We’ve worked hard to give women the opportunity to succeed and grow, and we believe that pay is an important factor in achieving this.
“I’m personally very proud to be part of an organisation that is so committed to women’s development, and ensuring that women are well represented at every level. Today is about recognising the inspirational women we have here at Ara Poutama Aotearoa, and thanking them for the great work they do to help keep New Zealand safe.”
Check out our video on Facebook featuring women in Corrections talking about their work.
Balance for better - key achievements for women at Corrections
1851 The first female attendant is appointed at Auckland Gaol, looking after women prisoners
1911 The first female-only prison (called a reformatory) is opened at Shelly Bay, Wellington
1974 Materoa (Minty) Harrison is the first female cooking instructor to work within the prison network, at Tongariro Prison
1985 Celia Lashlie became the first woman to work as a Corrections Officer in a men’s prison
1991 Pam Osment, Claude Dennis and Marina Rea are the first female Corrections Officers to work at a maximum security men’s prison - Paremoremo Prison in Auckland
1991 Heather Colby is the first woman to manage an all-male prison - Tongariro minimum security complex
2019 Christine Stevenson is appointed as interim Chief Executive (February)