No, women are still not equal to men in IT

Equal pay for equal work is a reality in IT, but few women rise to the higher positions, and overall inequity is worsening

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The position gap is evident in the Dice data when you examine the jobs held by men and women and how much they pay. Of the five job titles most commonly held by respondents to the survey -- software engineer, project manager, IT management, applications developer, and systems admin -- four of those held by men paid more than $90,000 a year.

Women, though, were paid more than $90,000 a year for just one of the top five positions they hold: project manager. Even in that category, they are paid less. Salaries for male project managers averaged $108,000 a year, while female project managers earned just $101,750. Although that may appear to undercut the argument that there's pay equity in IT work, Silver says that the Dice study also controlled for years on the job and education, meaning that men tended to have more experience and so commanded higher salaries due to that fact. If men and women had the same amount of experience, then their salaries typically were the same.

That's progress, of course, but it's clear that women are not yet breaking through the glass ceiling into higher-paying jobs and are underrepresented in IT as a whole.

The fault is in the system
According to Dice's Silver, roughly 30 percent of the IT workforce is female. There's always some disagreement about the definition of IT, but a glance at numbers compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Silver's estimate is in the ballpark.

Women make up 47 percent of the adult U.S. workforce, but just 26 percent of what the bureau calls "computer and mathematical occupations." Within that category, just 19.7 percent of software developers -- arguably the hottest segment of the IT jobs market -- are women, and that group also includes people working on application and systems software. The category with the highest representation of women is "database administrators," at 36.6 percent, according to the BLS.

Of all the statistics I looked at for this story, the one that surprised and worried me the most is the one on student enrollment. As I mentioned, just 17 percent of the nation's computer science undergraduates are women. But in the early 1980s, around the time Apple issued its IPO and Time magazine named the PC its Machine of the Year, women accounted for just over 37 percent of the students earning bachelor's degrees in computer science. Talk about retrograde motion.

It's probably fair to say that the glass ceiling in IT has been cracked. But it will take more time and a lot more effort to shatter it. Facebook COO Sandberg certainly makes some good points in her book, but my concern is that she puts too much emphasis on the individual woman to be more assertive and not enough on changing what's still a discriminatory system.

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This article, "No, women are still not equal to men in IT," was originally published by Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.


Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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