Digging Deeper Into the Gender Pay Gap: Masha Zvereva

Despite recent pushes for gender pay equality, issues persist in the tech industry. This gender pay gap between men’s and women’s salaries exists even when other factors, including experience, roles, education and location are controlled for. Despite the past and continuing contributions that women make in technology, the tech industry isn’t leading in this particular arena. In short, there is much work to be done.

To help raise awareness about the gender pay gap and drive the discussion about salary equality, Dice analyzed three years’ worth of salary data (along with supplemental panel and market data) to discover the pay differences between men and women in technology. And in addition to the report, Dice is speaking to women involved in the tech industry to get their perspective on the data and add their story. 

Masha Zvereva is an entrepreneur, content creator, educator, ex-googler, stereotype challenger. She is the founder of Coding Blonde, a blog dedicated to empowering women in technology and breaking stereotypes. Masha’s mission is to empower women in tech to live their lives on their terms. We spoke with Masha to get her perspective on the gender pay gap.



Dice: Can you tell me about your background?

Masha Zvereva: My background is in economics and marketing. I’ve worked at a lot of tech companies from Google to startups. I also run my own blog, trying to break stereotypes when it comes to women in tech, and to empower them to live a life that they want and to provide ideas, tools and inspiration to do so. 

Dice: Do you think there is a disparity in the ways that men and women are treated in tech?

MZ: For sure. I’ve had good experiences in terms of people wanting more diversity in the work space and empowering each other. In my personal experience, I haven’t had cases of gender discrimination. But I talk to a very large community of women in technology online and I know so many different stories of how they weren’t treated right by employers or colleagues. So, I know for sure that there is different treatment, and that there is a gender pay gap. 

Dice: In many ways, tech is leading other industries. Why do you think it’s fallen behind in this specific area? 

MZ: Women were pioneers in the software space. Back in the 1950s it was a very mainstream job for women. Cosmopolitan actually wrote an article about how it was the perfect job for women. However, there was a PR campaign later on where software became masculinized and professionalized. And as a result, women were pushed out through its messaging. These campaigns created the stereotypes that men are better at software and technology than women. And those stereotypes created the problem that we have now. The industry became predominately male, and predominately one type of male. There’s also stereotypes that exist in society – when a girl is thinking about which degree to choose, she doesn’t’ necessarily think about computer science because her parents don’t think about it. 

Dice: What do you think employers can do about the gender pay gap issue? 

MZ: When it comes to hiring, employers can look for pools of candidates that are more diverse and look in places that they haven’t gone to before to hire. At the end of the day, it all comes down to hiring the best candidates. And in order to find the best and most diverse candidates, [employers] should gather a pool of candidates that are more diverse. 

In terms of fostering a gender diverse organization, the current structure of companies is catered towards men, and women have had to adapt to that situation. I’m not saying that these benefits are bad, but employers should think outside of the box in terms of what will enable their female employees to be more productive. A lot of companies have adopted childcare as one of the benefits they offer, where a woman can have the piece of mind of where her child is. Other things to consider are parking spots that are closer to the office for pregnant women or when a women has her period she is allowed to work from home for the first day or two. There are so many things, and if you put women together to think about how the workplace can adapt to help them be more productive, it can be done. 

Dice: It sounds like the difference is in the details. 

MZ: Absolutely. It doesn’t have to be rewiring the way the company works. These are just little details to help women be more productive, considering some of the biological and sociological things they experience. 

Dice: Many employers would say that they don’t intend to pay anyone less based on their gender. What are some other reasons for the gender pay gap? Are women undervaluing themselves during the hiring process?

MZ: I believe that women tend to undervalue themselves compared to men [when applying for jobs]. It’s a spectrum (some men undervalue themselves too) but I see a tendency in women not negotiating their salary. That’s something that I notice in myself as well. Sometimes women are just happy to get the offer, and don’t think about the next step: to negotiate. There’s also a tendency where women will only apply to a job if they meet all of the requirements, while a man will apply if they have half of the requirements.

Dice: What is something that can be done about this? 

MZ: I think teaching negotiating strategies is important. Going back to this report, I think it’s important to see how much men are earning in the same position. Research is a huge part of negotiating; and understanding what others are being paid, and how much you should be paid for a role, is a part of it. Employers don’t necessarily want to pay women less than men. That’s not their goal. However, some hiring practices ask for the previous salary, and if a woman had a lower salary than a man applying for the same job, she will get a lower salary. So, having standard salaries and not asking about previous salaries can help equalize this. 

Dice: Is there anything else about this report that surprised you?

MZ: I’m very excited to share this report because this problem really exists. If you didn’t believe this issue before, here are the numbers. I’ve had people say that the gender pay gap doesn’t exist. But no, it is very real and I’m very excited to share these numbers.