Gender Wage Gap: Is Tech Successfully Closing It?

Is the gender wage gap closing? It depends on who you ask, but a new study from PayScale uncovered something interesting: Women at companies with more transparent pay policies felt that they were paid fairly. 

“The overall wage gap for women in 2019 is $0.98 cents for every $1 a man earns. For women who strongly disagree that pay is transparent at their organization, the gender wage gap is more pronounced, with women making only $0.96 for every $1 a man makes,” read PayScale’s report. But that gap disappeared at organizations where women felt the pay system was transparent, “with estimates of what a woman makes ranging between $1 and $1.01 for every $1 a man earns.” 

If you’ve ever worked for a government institution, you know that pay is pretty transparent; in fact, chances are pretty good that you could look up your colleagues’ salary via an easily searchable database. Within the private sector, through, things are often different; publicly traded companies must list their executives’ compensation with the SEC, but beyond that, they’re free to share (or not share) compensation data as they see fit.

In order to differentiate how companies approach transparency, PayScale created a “Pay Transparency Spectrum,” ranging from Level 1 (employees only see the data related to their paychecks, and discussions about pay among coworkers is discouraged) up to Level 5 (salaries are published in a way that all employees can access). Some 46 percent of companies apparently engage in Level 1 practices; meanwhile, a select few (including the NFL and the U.S. government) reach Level 5.

PayScale’s survey data revealed tech as one of the industries to achieve 100 percent pay equity. So… problem solved, right?

Beyond the Gender Wage Gap: Diversity Struggles

Not quite, especially since every company is different—and not all are dedicated to transparency as an integral facet of employee relations. PayScale’s own data from last year demonstrated that white male colleagues advocating for their women colleagues was the fastest way to close the gender pay gap at a particular firm (and even then, men who had an advocate earned 12.3 percent more, while women earned 10.2 percent more). That suggests the struggle to close the gap is very real, no matter what the company’s makeup.

Diversity issues in general continue to plague the tech industry, with the biggest tech companies making very public show of trying to diversify their respective employee ranks. For example, Google and the other giants regularly launch diversity reports and new “initiatives.” Despite all the resources deployed, however, progress has been slow.

“At Google and Microsoft, the share of U.S. technical employees who are black or Latinx rose by less than a percentage point since 2014. The share of black technical workers at Apple is unchanged at 6 percent, less than half blacks’ 13 percent share of the U.S. population,” Wired wrote late last year.

The change is incremental—but the data suggests that change is possible.

4 Responses to “Gender Wage Gap: Is Tech Successfully Closing It?”

  1. Sure gender gap is really close,,, oh but wait …
    on my entire floor of technology folks working, once in a while I get a glimpse of a woman wandering around – she turns out to be from HR !
    Stop hallucinating, please.

  2. It looks as the author of the article and some of commentators commingled two issues:

    (1) The equal (or similar) labor should be paid identically (or the difference should be very small). The gap used to huge, but currently in decent companies / employers it became pretty small: e.g. salary + bonus of women is 98% of salary + bonus of men working in the same positions (sometimes after adjusting for the difference in hours of work)

    (2) People should have equal access to job openings, positions, etc.

    We do not know if women do not like some professions / specialities, or cannot work in them equally productively because of social traditions, psychology, physiology, etc., or are plainly discriminated. However, we know that, overall, there is fewer women than men in well-paid professions and, within the professions, they are less often promoted to higher grade. In result, in average women still are paid, in average, only about 70% of what men are paid.

    Personally, I believe that the (1) is relatively low hanging fruit, that can be solved company by company and is already more or less solved in good companies. (2) is really tough to solve.

    • In the previous comment I jumped too fast from (2) – Equal Access to conclusion. By equal access I meant not access to interviews and hiring (it is an easy part), but overall likeness to get the job, that assumes experience, education, and interests in line of work and education – e.g. interest to mathematics, willingness to spend a lot of time and brain energy on maintaining and expanding skills and knowledge, and/or willingness to held high pressure, high responsibility positions. A lot of people has different priorities.