According to research conducted by Emolument.com, there are actually two gender gaps in IT. Firstly, in pay and secondly in terms of representation. The gender pay gap varies according to the size of company.
The biggest pay gaps tend to be found with smaller firms – those employing less than 10 employees. Here the salary gap is a whopping 28%. In large companies (employing 250 or more) the gap is less, but still 19%. The ratio of women to men is the same regardless of company size, with just three in ten roles held by females.
Women hold only 1 in every 10 positions for some roles
The representation gap is just as startling. Only one in ten roles for software developers or data scientists are held by women. This is the inevitable end result of fewer females opting to study relevant subjects at school and university.
In many ways it seems strange that the technology sector should be lagging behind when it comes to gender pay and representation. After all, this is an industry that is, undoubtedly, forward-thinking and innovative. But the sector has also been described as having the largest ‘like for like’ gender pay gap in the UK. This is the type of label that the IT sector needs to shake off.
The OECD predicts that by 2030 reducing the gender pay gap could be worth as much as a 10% boost to overall GDP. Therefore, the stakes are high and it is the likes of the technology and finance sectors that need to act and act quickly. Only actions, not platitudes, will pull the IT sector out of the current situation. More transparency will be helpful – and not just for the companies employing more than 250 employees, who are obliged to publish their gender pay gap data.
High-growth sectors must lead the way
It is high-growth sectors such as technology that must lead the way to avoid gender gaps – for both salary and status – widening further still. Of course, the gender gap starts early which means there is no quick fix – the tech gender gap begins at school and affects the number of girls who see technology as a future career path. Currently, the gap emerges at school and continues to be seen at every stage of women’s lives and careers.
Anecdotally, there are stories of managers paying more for female employees so that a workforce can diversify. The technology sector is not alone in its position of needing to do more to improve gender equality – but it does need to do much more.
Events such as Girls in ICT Day will do much to raise awareness about the possibilities the sector holds for women. However, it is also important that the tech sector is seen to be doing all it can to create a culture can women can not only compete, but also thrive.