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IT gender salary gap not as dramatic as you think

Sharon Florentine | Aug. 28, 2013
It's a common belief that men are paid more than women for the same job in the tech field. However, based on two recent salary surveys, that belief turns out to be less accurate than you might think. However, that doesn't mean significant gender career issues don't exist.

"Technology is a terrific career sector to be in, whether youre a man or a woman," Melland says. "The average household income in the United States is around $50,000. In technology the average pay is between $87,000-89,000. And there are so many opportunities for other types of compensation: stock options, yearly bonuses, flexible work schedules, remote work opportunities," he says.

Tech Jobs Pay for Performance
Technology, too, is one of the more pure meritocratic fields, in which your performance and therefore your eligibility for pay raises, promotions and bonuses is evaluated solely on the effectiveness of your work, says Melland.

"Tech is really pure as far as being a meritocracy. You have to be highly skilled and trained, you must constantly keep skills and training and abilities on the cutting edge as new methods and products evolve," he says.

"It's a very skills-based, project-dependent field — you either got a project done or you didn't. It was either on time or it wasn't. Your code either works or it doesn't," Melland says.

These factors make tech an alluring career option for those with the education and skills to thrive, he says. The field, too, offers flexibility and an emphasis on work-life balance that arent as available in other industries.

"You can often work from home. You can take on projects on a contract basis, or other types of 'offsite' arrangements," he says. "You can help customers in Atlanta while you're sitting on your deck, in your pajamas, in Silicon Valley. And that means you're available to better juggle your home, family and childcare responsibilities," Melland says.

Payscale's Bardaro says her data echoes the survey in that there are more men in architecture, programming and development jobs while women gravitate toward project management, administration and other 'softer' areas, she says, because those positions have a more predictable, 9-to-5, five-days-a-week schedule that's easier to plan around.

"There's a lack of flexibility in some of the harder, architecture and development, programming and coding jobs," Bardaro says.

"Many of these jobs require 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, on-call availability that, if you have a family, if you're juggling other responsibilities as women usually are, they can't accommodate," she says.

Therein lies the rub. In a field such as technology, with so many opportunities for advancement, flexibility, equal pay and an emphasis on work-life balance, why aren't more women flocking to the industry?

"If you look at the numbers, there are fewer women now entering the field, fewer women with college majors in technology, math and science than there were 10 years ago," says Melland.

"That's a conundrum, and it's unsettling. Why is that? I can only speculate, but to me it speaks to a systemic, institutional bias that starts very early in womens' education to guide them away from careers in these fields," Melland says.


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