Gender Pay Gap Among Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and Data Experts

Among those technologists who work with artificial intelligence (A.I.) and data, a higher percentage of women have advanced degrees than men. However, that doesn’t translate into comparable salaries, according to a new study by O’Reilly: Instead, women who work with A.I. and data make significantly less than their male counterparts.

The O’Reilly breakdown suggests that men working in A.I. and data make an average of $150,000 per year, while women make $126,000. That’s significantly less, and the gap persists regardless of education levels (according to the study, 16 percent of women involved in A.I. and data had a doctorate, versus 13 percent of men; 47 percent of women had a master’s degree, compared to 46 percent  of men). 

“Women’s salaries also lagged men’s salaries when we compared women and men with similar job titles,” the report stated. “At the executive level, the average salary for women was $163,000 versus $205,000 for men (a 20 percent difference). At the director level, the difference was much smaller—$180,000 for women versus $184,000 for men—and women’s salaries were actually higher than those at the executive level. It’s easy to hypothesize about this difference, but we’re at a loss to explain it.”

Overall, O’Reilly estimated the average salary of data and A.I. professionals at $146,000 per year (that’s from 2,778 respondents in the U.S. and 284 in the U.K.), with salaries increasing an average of 2.25 percent annually. 

Sadly, the gender gap in pay isn’t isolated to data and A.I.; according to a report published earlier this year by Hired, male technologists “were offered higher salaries than women for the same job title and the same company” 59 percent of the time in 2020—and that’s only a slight decrease from 65 percent in 2019, despite companies’ supposed focus on diversity, equality, and inclusion. 

Dice has also found that the gender pay differential varies state by state, exceeding $15,000 in some instances. In New York, for instance, women technologists make an average of $8,914 less than their male counterparts; in California, it’s $5,369. No wonder some 35 percent of women report dissatisfaction with their current compensation, and 49 percent of women feel underpaid relative to their male counterparts.

Fortunately, companies are hungrier than ever for A.I. and data experts, in multiple industries. That gives executives, project managers, and HR reps even more opportunities to advocate for equal pay.