Is there or isn't there a gender pay gap in tech?

The gender pay gap exists -- but data suggests that it’s narrow in the technology industry when women and men have the same education, years of experience and title.

blog on the gender pay gap in tech
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What do women want most in the workplace? It turns out, two out of five women say equal pay is their top workplace wish. Last week, I talked with Jeff Weber, who's the vice president of people and places at enterprise learning and training software company Instructure, an educational software manufacturer, about a survey they conducted which polled more than 1,000 working men and women across the U.S. The results revealed that equal pay is the issue most women want, and the one both women and men most expect to change by 2020.

Last fall, cloud compensation services company PayScale released the findings from this massive compensation study of over 1.4 million full-time employees tracked over the course of two years. The findings are depressing, but not surprising; the gender pay gap absolutely exists in in every industry, though it's much narrower in the IT industry.

It's so narrow, in fact, that Dice.com's annual salary survey report, released last month, shows that when comparing pay for tech professionals of both sexes, controlling for education, years of experience and job title, that compensation is equal. SoiIs there or isn't there a gender pay gap in tech? Yes and no. There is what Dice calls a "position gap." Previous Dice research showed that women and men tend to hold different positions and roles within IT, accounting for the differences in pay. That's a whole different story about "women's work" and the Mommy track and how women are often socialized and subtly and overtly encouraged to pursue different roles and I don't want to get into that right now.

Instead, let's be a little simplistic and focus on the bright spots -- where men and women have the same education, years of experience and title, they're paid equally. There's even an IT specialty in which women are consistently paid more than men; data center careers.

[ Related story: How to solve the STEM gender equality equation ]

Data center software company Stratoscale released the results of its first bi-annual salary survey, the aptly named "Data Center Professionals Salary Survey," which polled 314 data center professionals globally in February 2016, and found that no matter how they sliced and diced the data, women in the data center consistently earned more than men -- on average, and regardless of role, as much as 17 percent more. The survey also revealed that data center professionals are pretty well compensated, with salaries between $100,000 and $140,000.

Here's another silver lining: In the grand scheme of things, pay discrepancies can be quickly addressed. Weber hypothesized (and I agree) that perhaps his survey cited equal pay as the number-1 thing women wanted at work because it was the most feasible. The issue's gaining a lot of traction, and a number of companies are publicly discussing their efforts to achieve parity. For instance, in 2015 Salesforce.com's CEO Marc Benioff ordered a review of salaries, company-wide, and then spent $3 million to ensure equal pay. Intel audited pay and found no pay gap in its workforce for the first time ever, but remains committed to ensure the wage gap doesn't creep back in. There are a number of companies that are embracing radical pay transparency to help eliminate the wage gap, like Buffer, for example, makes salary information and the formula used to calculate pay rates, publicly available. Microsoft, Pinterest and real-estate website Redfin are working on pay audits to ensure pay is equal.

It's a start, for sure. As more companies recognize the issue and begin rectifying the wage gap, it seems women's equal pay wish will come true -- maybe even before 2020.

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