Women in Tech Face Increased Wage Discrimination

Photograph of 2 women and 1 man working on computers in an office.
Photo: iStockphoto

By: Tekla S. Perry

After falling slightly in 2018, the number of women in tech being offered less than men for the same job at the same company jumped back up in 2019—to 63 percent. Meanwhile, the average salary differential between U.S. tech workers identifying as male compared with those identifying as female held steady at 3 percent, according to a 2020 study by job search firm Hired released at the end of March.

Last month, a study by Dice also reported that the gender pay gap continues across most specialties, but may be narrowing in cloud engineering, systems architecture, and network engineering. The Hired study instead looked at changes in the overall U.S. tech industry to find that the gender gap is growing, not narrowing.

That’s the data. In terms of the perception, only 64 percent of men who responded to Hired survey indicated that they believe a wage gap between genders exists, with 16 percent of men convinced there is no gap and 21 percent unsure. For women, 84 percent are convinced of the gap, with only 6 percent indicating that it doesn’t exist and 10 percent unsure.

According to Hired’s data, the gap in major metropolitan areas is largest in New York (10 percent), and smallest in Los Angeles (5 percent). The San Francisco Bay Area fell in the middle (7 percent).

With such a pervasive salary gap, it’s not surprising that women in tech have lower expectations for their own salaries—helping to cement the wage gap, Hired’s analysts indicate. And expectations in 2019 were worse than in 2018: 65 percent of women asked for lower salaries than men in 2019, compared with 61 percent in 2018.

More pay transparency and open conversations about salaries among peers are needed to break through this barrier, the Hired report indicated. And most tech employees would welcome salary transparency: 68 percent of women and 63 percent of men think transparency would increase their interest in working for a company, according to the report.

Hired also looked at tech salaries broken down by race as well as gender, and found that Asian male tech workers are at the top of the U.S. pay heap, followed by white men, Hispanic men, and Asian women.

For salary data, Hired drew from a sample set of more than 470,000 interview requests and job offers on its marketplace made in 2019; for opinion data, Hired surveyed 2,400 job candidates in early 2020. To tag the data by gender, Hired used a combination of voluntary, self-reported demographic data and a classifier that identified the gender based on first name, only including data from candidates with unambiguous gender classifications. Data related to race came via an optional survey.

This article originally appeared in IEEE Spectrum on 15 April 2020.