What is interesting about IT's wage gap by gender is not that is narrower than in most professions, but that it exists at all, says the chair of the NPCE.
Statistically, men make more money than women do for doing the same job.
It's called the "wage gap" and it is considered one of the last
bastions of gender inequality in the workplace.
The wage gap hit its all-time low in 1973, when women could be expected to
earn 56.6 percent of what a man would earn for the same work, according to the
U.S. Women's Bureau and the NCPE (National Committee on Pay Equity). This was a
decade after the Equal Pay Act of 1963 made it illegal for employers to pay
unequal wages to men and women who held the same job and did the same work.
(The percentage was 58 percent in 1963.)
In 2007, women could expect to be paid 80 cents on the
dollar across all occupations, an improvement of less than half a penny per
year, with numbers even further depressed among minorities: 64
cents per dollar for African-American women and 52 cents for Hispanic women.
IT professions faired better than most in 2007. Computer support specialists
appeared closest to closing the wage gap, with women earning 87 percent of what
men did in the same occupation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The numbers beat the national average in other categories, including computer
and information systems managers and computer programmers (85 percent) and
database administrators, computer scientists and systems analysts (84 percent).
Michele Leber, chair of the NCPE, a Washington
organization that works to close the pay gap, noted that it was not uncommon to
see less of a gap early on in women's careers.
"The disparity between men's and women's wages among full-time,
year-round workers varies with industries and occupations that are
predominantly male or female. I've seen figures [indicating] that in IT jobs
there was a very small gap as they got into the workplace, but it widened over
the course of their careers," Leber said.
This observation is backed up by a 2007 study by Dice, a career site for IT
professionals, which found that women
aged 18 to 24 earned nearly the same salary as men
($41,700 versus $41,722
respectively). In the next age bracket, ages 25 to 29, a 7.6 percent gap
emerged ($55,480 versus $60,031 respectively), compared with gaps of at least
10 percent in all age groups over 30.
Leber noted that what is interesting about IT's narrow wage gap when
compared with other professions is not that is better, but that it exists at
"What strikes us is why there should be any. It's a relatively new
field and people come in at relatively [the] same education level," said
Leber, who explained that there has been a historical bias in many older fields
reflecting past attitudes that men worked to support a family and women worked
for pin money.
"In IT, you may have started with a level playing field," Leber