The software business has a pretty good reputation when it comes to the gender wage gap. Despite the heated debate that has arisen around Sheryl Sandberg’s book of career advice, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” there is definitely data that shows women in the workplace do make as much as men at least when it comes to technology professionals.
A 2012-2013 salary survey from tech recruitment site Dice showed a minimal difference between the earnings of male and female software engineers. Men earned $95,929 per year as opposed to $87,527 for women in the survey but Dice concluded that the gap was due to different job titles. “Average salaries are equal for male and female tech pros, provided we’re comparing equal levels of experience and education and parallel job titles,” says the press release.
A report from PayScale cites similar statistics. In PayScale’s data, median pay for male software engineers in Seattle, for example, was $89,400 while women earn $79,000. Economist Katie Bardaro was quoted in the report as saying that when you control for years of experience and job responsibilities, the wage gap for women decreases to 97 cents on the dollar for men.
But while Tom Silver, SVP, Dice believes that technology employment is a skills driven marketplace, stating that “The ability to apply that know-how to a given problem remains the core of employment – why tech professionals get hired and how they are compensated," things may not be all that rosey in the tech world:
The company Developer Auction lets employers bid on top tech talent in competitive two-week auctions. For each auction, the company filters thousands of developers down to a few hundred of the best profiles. Employers can make these candidates job offers which include salary, equity, and signing bonus details.
Founder Matt Mickiewicz has noticed a curious phenomenon on the site. “Women represent just 7% of the candidates in our marketplace but 12% of our Top 100 most all-time popular developers,” says Mickiewicz. “Our top ever engineer in our marketplace was a woman who got 24 offers and had a Computer Science degree from Stanford.” According to the site, most developers receive between 5 and 15 offers.
Here’s where things get strange. The median offer to a female engineer on Developer Auction is $100,000 versus $120,000 for her male counterpart. The average offer is $103,500 for women as opposed to $118,400 for men. The highest ever offer to a female engineer, the aforementioned all-time most popular coder on Developer Auction, was $160,000 while the top salary offer to a man was $240,000.
To put this in context, developers with H1B visas also get lower salary offers and 32% fewer job offers than average on Developer Auction. But they still get higher offers than women. H1B holders receive a median offer of $117.5,000 and $114,500 average offer.
So why do female developers get more job offers but at lower salaries? Is it because there are significant differences between the years of experience or in-demand skills in the profiles of Developer Auction’s female versus male candidates?
Not likely, according to Mickiewicz “I think it's just the gender-wage gap that's seen in other industries.” Since employers don’t see the minimum salary requirements of developers on the site, the salary gap can’t be down to female engineers setting lower minimum salaries. There’s also no salary negotiation at the auction stage (offers are non-binding and may be renegotiated at the interview stage), so the difference cannot be accounted for by the much-cited theory that women need help with salary negotiation.
When it comes to understanding why Female Developers are offered such low salaries, it seems like there needs to be some "Leaning On" that goes with "Leaning In" for tech companay to overcome gender bias.
What do the numbers tell us?
Here is a quick snapshot of the most recent Dice Salary Survey which reaffirms a belief that has been constant in the analyses since 2009: With tech workers, the compensation gender gap has disappeared. Average salaries are equal for male and female tech pros, provided we’re comparing equal levels of experience and education and parallel job titles.
Whether you agree or disagree, it’s hard to dispute that in an environment where all employees are afforded equal opportunity to build their skills and participate in high-profile projects, the best and brightest will rise to the top, gender aside.
Companies that treat men and women the same, from pay on down, create a world where talent flourishes. That may drive Sheryl Sandberg out of the book business, even as it drives firms’ bottom lines.
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