McGregor said interim results of the Census of Women's Participation showed that for the first time since the biennial survey began in 2004, the number of women in positions of power was going backwards.
Until recently New Zealand had a female prime minister, governor- general, attorney- general and a woman at the helm of Telecom, our largest publicly listed company.
McGregor said every other year there had been incremental improvements. "It means we have hit a plateau and are probably going to slide back," she said.
"New Zealand has always had a wonderful reputation - first of all with suffrage, but also with gender equality in a number of different areas, so that's why I'm worried about the signs of regression. We are at a critical stage for women's rights and gender equality. There's been a bit of complacency born out of the fact that there was a blip when we had a number of high-fliers."
McGregor believed it was time for the baby boomer generation to step aside, and accepted that view would cause controversy. "I do think there needs to be new and radical thinking. Younger women are there and I think we need to make space for them and for their voices and their forms of activism which are different from ours."