The tech industry still has a long way to go before reaching true gender pay equality. No matter how the data is presented the results are strikingly clear — women are still often being paid less than men. Don’t believe it? Let’s dive into the data.
Gender Pay Gaps in the Technology Industry
The 2020 Gender Gap in Tech Report by Dice used three years’ worth of salary data to analyze and better understand the pay differences between men and women who work in the technology industry. The report found noticeable pay gaps between men and women when it came to location and occupation.
According to the report, many states showed that men in tech earned more than their female counterparts. In states like New York and California — where technology is largely dominant — women were paid more than $5,000 less than men with a similar tech position.
Traditional technology jobs also showed significant pay disparities that favored men. For instance, male data architects received $13,123 more than female data architects, and male software engineers earned $8,559 more than female software engineers. In fact, only a few careers showed instances where women earned more than men, such as technical writers.
The job search site Glassdoor has been conducting research on the gender pay gap since 2006. Despite seeing some improvements over the last several years, their latest report, Progress on Gender Pay Gap: 2019, noted that there is still a sizable wage gap in the technology industry and between specific tech jobs.
According to the 2019 report, the tech industry had an adjusted gender gap in base pay of 5.4 percent. Furthermore, top US Occupations like computer programmers, data specialists, and technical support had noticeable pay gaps where men earned more.
Why Does the Gender Pay Gap Exist?
One would think that by looking at the data, tech companies could easily fix this problem. After all, they just need to pay women more and that’ll settle it.
However, addressing gender inequality isn’t as simple as that. A gender pay gap exists because there are systems in place that have been developed over centuries by preexisting biases. These systems were created by men, and whether people recognize this or not, these systems tend to favor men.
One reason why women are paid less than men is that they are more commonly in low-paying entry-level positions, while men are likely to hold positions across all management levels in the tech industry. According to McKinsey & Company research, women held 28 percent of senior-vice president positions and 21 percent of C-suite level positions in January 2020.
The tech industry is already a male-dominated environment, and without women in C-suite level positions, there isn’t room provided for women to share their perspectives for growth or change at the industry level.
Another hurdle that women often experience is that they have to choose between work and family. If a woman decides to have a family, then reinforced societal gender roles put further hurdles in place to make this decision challenging. The US does not have a paid parental leave policy, so there isn’t a system in place to help women once they take maternity leave. Furthermore, child care duties are also a responsibility women traditionally have had to bear, which poses even further challenges to career advancement.
How Tech Companies Are Addressing the Pay Gap
Addressing gender pay inequality begins when tech companies make waves and change their company culture.
Pamela Maynard, CEO of Avanade, outlines in her article for Forbes several different possibilities to explore as a leader in tech.
“First, enact candidate slating guidelines, which, for example, require at least one woman to be included in the final pool of candidates for any management-level role and above. The second is to set corporate inclusion and diversity goals that are transparent and measurable,” writes Maynard.
Setting clear goals that support women also means that technology companies need to look at their company culture and see where they need to improve. In the same way that data is collected and analyzed in a project to determine results, tech companies have to look at themselves and realize what works and what doesn’t support their employees. If women aren’t applying for certain jobs, why is that?
Several tech companies have already taken this self-reflective approach and made some significant changes over the years. Google, for instance, offers paid maternity and paternity leave, which eliminates one major hurdle women face when seeking career advancement.
The Bottom Line
To address the gender pay gap, tech companies have to do more than acknowledge its existence. Pay discrepancies occur because there are many barriers in place that make it challenging for women to advance and succeed in the workplace.
Yes, women are paid less than men in technology jobs. However, it’s how technology companies change their company culture that will truly dictate the future for gender pay equality and whether it can finally be achieved.
Sophia Acevedo is a journalist based in Southern California. She is a 2020 graduate from California State University, Fullerton, and a proud Daily Titan alum.