Is the Gender Gap in Technology Pay Actually Growing?

A new report suggests that the gender gap in technologist pay is growing—a bad sign for everyone interested in pay parity.

IEEE-USA’s 2021 Salary & Benefits survey, with 5,466 respondents, found a $28,000 gap in the 2020 median income of men and women technologists. That’s a significant increase from 2018, when men earned an average of $19,000 more than women. Check out the chart:

The report also found significant gaps in pay between White technologists and other ethnic and racial groups, particularly their African-American, Hispanic, and Native American peers.  

This isn’t the first survey or report to suggest a significant gender gap in technologist pay. For example, a recent O’Reilly breakdown suggested that men working in A.I. and data make an average of $150,000 per year, while women make $126,000. That gap persists even when respective education levels are taken into account (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). 

Moreover, the perception of a pay disparity is rampant within tech. In Dice’s Equality in Tech Report, roughly half of all technologists identifying as women (49 percent) said they were underpaid relative to others with the same occupation and skill level, versus 45 percent of men. More than a third (35 percent) of those technologists identifying as women also said they were dissatisfied with their current compensation, versus 29 percent of technologists identifying as men.  

The situation is also persistent across the country, with Dice data suggesting the pay differential varies state by state: In New York, for instance, women technologists make an average of $8,914 less than their male counterparts; in California, it’s $5,369. In other states, the gap can exceed $15,000 per year.

While many companies have done their best to become more transparent around issues related to pay and the gender gap, these reports make it very clear that much work remains to be done, from the CEO suite down to the team leader level. Mentorship and education are vital, since those can give technologists a better sense of their true worth.