Would you believe us if we said that women in the IT sector earn 29 percent lesser than their male peers? Don’t just take our word for it, cast a glance at these hard numbers—a male employee in the Indian IT industry receives a gross wage of Rs 359.25 per hour, while a female receives only Rs 254.04.
The stark reality that women are victims of gender-based income disparity was brought to light in a recent research. The report, titled “Monster Salary Index India IT Sector Report 2014,” highlighted the yawning wage gap in the Indian IT sector that comprises of the “world’s largest talent pool” of 4.7 million employees.
According to the report, the IT sector employs more than 800,000 women, which accounts for about 30 percent of the workforce. And most of these female workers are encountering a severe gender pay back.
Elaborating on the reasons behind this persistent gender earnings gap, Sanjay Modi, managing director, Monster.com, said, “One way to explain this inequality is through looking at the frequency of employees being in supervisory positions. About half of the total respondents reported being supervisors. 52 percent of men hold supervisory positions, however, only 36 percent of women hold the same kind of positions.”
The report says that there is a striking difference between wages received by supervisors and non-supervisors. An average supervisor receives an hourly wage of Rs 451.63, while an average non-supervisor get Rs 248.27. Breaking down the figure further in terms of gender, we see that the hourly wage for male non-supervisors is Rs 255.32, for female non-supervisors is Rs 206.28, while for male supervisors is Rs 461.89 and female supervisors get Rs 375.29.
In both categories, women earn about 18-20 percent less than men. This figure is lower than the overall gender pay gap, which means that a part of the gender inequality can be explained by the fact that men get promoted to supervisory positions more than women.
The underlying reasons behind this could be problems in job timings, socio-cultural factors, employers’ preconceived notions about job capabilities of women and womens’ familial responsibilities.
Employers feel that marriage brings additional responsibilities on women, and hence, they may not be able to devote the same amount of time to work. Women not being preferred for promotions then becomes commonplace and this results in most women crowding at the lower end of the occupational hierarchy.
“IT sector jobs often require night shifts. Women are not preferred, for the extra safety measures that are required to be implemented by the employer, which results in overall cost increase for the firm,” stated Modi.
Besides, women in India have to make difficult trade-offs between work and family. The wage gap between men and women can be attributed to the fact that women, more often than not, choose flexibility and work-life balance over career progression.
According the report, another important factor influencing wages is tenure. Experienced employees are paid better than less experienced ones. While an average worker with less than three years of experience gets Rs 142.97 per hour, an average worker with more than 10 years of experience gets Rs 625.55 per hour.
The report shows that women have only recently started being active in the IT sector and they find it harder to accumulate tenure due to family obligations. While 23 percent of women and 11 percent of men have less than three years of experience in the IT sector currently, about 55 percent of women and 36 percent of men have five or less years of experience.
Meanwhile, 21 percent of male employees and 14 percent of female employees have more than 10 years of experience. Willingly or not, women aren’t able to gather experience, which is not allowing their career graph to rise.
The gender pay gap is 14 percent for employees with less than three years of experience, 6 percent for employees between three to five years of experience, 18 percent for employees with six to 10 years of experience and 16 percent for employees with more than 11 years of experience. This reflects that it is more likely for men to get promoted and gain experience.
Geetha Kannan, India managing director, Anita Borg Institute, an NGO focused on the advancement of women in computer science and engineering, outlined that the gender pay gap is a reflection of the society. “The gender pay gap will continue till women don’t learn to negotiate better. Women also tend to stay longer in jobs and that sometimes results in pay parity. But over the years we have seen a decline in the pay disparity,” she noted.
So what can women do to change the game? Kannan offers a suggestion “Women should negotiate better. They need do some research on salaries in the industry to equip themselves to negotiate. Also they should be more confident in the skill sets they possess. They should be a part of networking groups—it is a great way to stay connected,” she shared.
Female employees need to chisel their soft skills. “Women need to attend at least two conferences in a year to update themselves on trends and invest in training. They also need to build an executive presence,” she concluded.
The socio-cultural fabric is a major stumbling block behind the career advancement of women. They need to fast unshackle themselves from societal norms to jump the gender pay gap.