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The Gender Pay Gap Is Still Widest In Tech, Says Glassdoor’s Chief Economist

Here's an in-depth look at how pay disparities break down by gender in some of the most popular tech jobs.

The Gender Pay Gap Is Still Widest In Tech, Says Glassdoor’s Chief Economist

[Photo: littlehenrabi/iStock]

Transparency plays an important role in the tech industry, especially when it comes to learning about how much you should earn. Here at Glassdoor, I want to continue to shed light on an important part of that research for tech workers: the gender pay gap.

Many often argue that the gender pay gap in tech is simply due to different choices men and women make. That is, they suggest that there is a male-female pay gap in tech simply because men and women have chosen to work in different roles—for example, software engineers versus marketing managers. A common argument is that once you account for men and women working in different roles, the gender pay gap in tech ceases to exist.

As the chief economist at Glassdoor, my job is to help set the record straight about issues like this. Thanks to millions of Glassdoor salary reports from around the world, we are in a unique position to carefully measure the gender pay gap, both in tech and throughout the economy more generally.

To ensure an apples-to-apples comparison of men and women in the tech sector, we statistically controlled for as many important differences between workers as we could. We compared men and women in the same tech roles, after adjusting for age, highest education, years of experience, location, year, job title, and company. That allows us to carefully assess whether there is a real gender pay gap in tech roles, once we’ve "adjusted" for similar male and female workers.

What We Found

The pay gap in tech is real, and wider than in many sectors. Among 16 of today’s most popular tech roles for which we had the most data, 12 of them had gender pay gaps that were above the U.S. adjusted average pay gap of 5.4%. In other words, 75% of the tech occupations we examined had gender pay gaps above the national average of 5.4%, even after controlling for workers’ education, experience, geographic location, and more.

Among tech roles, the biggest pay discrepancy was found in computer programming. This is a more mature tech role that includes jobs like scientific coders or those who do programming work related to mainframe computing. The adjusted gender pay gap in that occupation was 28.3%. Put in a different way, that equates to a female computer programmer earning 72¢ for every dollar earned by a male computer programmer, even after accounting for similar factors.

The second biggest gender pay gap in tech exists in the role of game artist, which is a common tech role among the nation’s largest video game and entertainment companies. The gender pay gap among game artists is 15.8%. They are followed by information security specialist at 14.7%, and software architect at 10.6%.

There are, however, several roles in tech today with adjusted gender pay gaps that fall well below the U.S. national average of 5.4%. For example, product manager has a gender pay gap of 4.3%, while mobile developers come in at 2.9%, and hardware engineers came in at 1.9%—less than half the national average gender pay gap.

As an industry, tech overall has an adjusted gender pay gap that averages about 5.9%. This falls roughly in the middle of the park among U.S. industries. However, as the table above illustrates, there is huge diversity among jobs within tech when it comes to gender pay equity.

What can we conclude from this analysis? For one, it’s clear there remains a significant gender pay gap in many roles in the tech industry. This gap persists even after we account for differences in education and experience, and cannot be fully explained by men and women choosing to work in different roles within tech. The majority of the tech roles we examined for this analysis had male-female pay gaps well above the U.S. average—even after we accounted for differences in age, education, experience, and other important factors.

Understanding the data is one thing. But acting on it is another. How can we use this analysis to work toward closing the gender pay gap more broadly?

This is not an easy question to answer, as the research points to many complex factors causing today’s gap between male and female pay. The good news is that the average, or unadjusted, gap has closed significantly in recent decades to about 24%, according to Glassdoor research.

With women earning on average 76¢ per dollar earned by men does represent real progress—that figure was as low as 59¢ per dollar in the 1950s, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. However, America still has a long way to go before the many barriers to equal opportunity and pay have been leveled once and for all.

At Glassdoor, we have long been champions of pay transparency. And while there is no one simple solution to the gender pay gap in tech, we are committed to working to close the gender pay gap through greater pay transparency. And we hope that by sharing this data, tech workers today will feel more knowledgeable about the landscape of the pay gap in the U.S.’s fast-growing and dynamic tech sector. And we hope tech employers will look into their own payroll data to first understand whether they have a pay gap, as Glassdoor and many other employers have already done. Then that knowledge can be turned into action to close gaps that may exist.


This article originally appeared on Glassdoor and is reprinted with permission.

Glassdoor's note on research methodology: For the purposes of the report, "job" and "job title" are used interchangeably with "occupation," which is the term used in the official research report. This report takes into account job-title normalization that groups similar job titles. The report is based on 504,438 salary reports shared on Glassdoor by U.S.-based, full-time workers as of 11/11/2015.

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