The IT gender gap is alive and well — but it might be starting to close. The 2018 Interop/InformationWeek IT Salary Survey revealed that men who work in IT continue to make more than women do, but women are seeing their salaries increase at a faster rate than men are.
As reported last week, the survey polled 1,800 IT professionals in the United States about their current pay, job titles, and other employment issues. Half of respondents identified themselves as managers, and half said that they held a staff position.
Among those who participated, 84% were male, 15% female, and 1% gender non-conforming. The group of managers skewed even more heavily towards men: 87% male, 12% female, and 1% gender non-conforming.
While the dearth of women in the field is certainly concerning, more alarming for women who work in IT was the fact that women continue to earn less than their male counterparts — about $10,000 less across the board. Median pay for female staffers in 2018 was $80,000, compared to $90,000 for men. Among managers, median female pay was $115,000, while male pay came in at $125,000.
The one bright spot in the report was that pay for female staffers rose at a higher rate than for male staffers. In fact, between 2017 and 2018, total compensation for male staffers remained flat at $90,000, while women saw an increase from $75,000 to $80,000. Female managers saw their pay increase $10,000 year-over-year, and male managers experienced a $5,000 increase. If those trends continue, women in IT could eventually close the gap with men.
However, female IT workers expressed understandable dismay over the salary gap.
“I think it sucks,” said Margret Treiber, a survey participant and systems analyst. “I also think that it will not be changed until the old-fashioned ideals that a large portion of the population clings to is somehow replaced with logic.”
Treiber said that in previous jobs she had been passed over for promotion, even though she was the “go-to person” in her department and had been asked to train the new manager. “When I complained about this, I was questioned why I would even want to be management, as if it was preposterous that I would even be considered for it,” Treiber said. “At one point when I was asking for access to systems that were necessary to actually do my job, I was denied and confidentially told by one of the VPs that it was because I was ‘a girl.’”
Another survey participant, Rhonda, who works in the consulting and business services industry, initially indicated that she was “satisfied” with her salary. But in a follow-up interview, Rhonda said, “Now that I’ve seen the median pay data, I’m less satisfied with my compensation. Florida is a state whose cost of living is typically below average, so I’ve been happy with my pay package to date. But now it seems I might be slightly (maybe 5K) underpaid based on the small bit of data you’ve shared.”
A self-described baby boomer, Rhonda felt that part of the problem for the pay difference was “women’s fault; we’re typically not as aggressive and don’t ‘toot our own horn’ as much as the average man does.”
On the other hand, a third female respondent, a female systems administrator who wanted to remain anonymous said that her experience had been somewhat different because she had “mostly great bosses,” who had “insisted that women get paid the same as men because they are doing the same job.”
However, she also felt that her current high-paying job had effectively strapped her with “golden handcuffs” because she didn’t think she could command the same pay if she went to a new job. In the past, she had some negative experiences at companies where men routinely made more than women, but she also believed that “sometimes being a woman has been a benefit because I stand out in a sea of resumes as the only ‘girl’ that has applied.”
As for how to remedy the situation, most of the women interviewed said it would require female IT workers being more aggressive in self-promotion and asking for raises, as well as employers and managers making equal pay a priority. Clearly, the industry has some work to do in improving the treatment of female workers, but it appears that, at least in some cases, things are trending in a positive direction.