Dice Claims Gender Gap in Tech Jobs 'Over'

By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2009-04-09 Print this article Print

Dice, the technology careers site, recently put out its April report, with something I found a bit controversial. Dice claimed, based on its annual salary survey, that the gender gap in salaries for tech workers is over. Over?

Here's how Tom Silver, vice president at Dice, put it in a recent release:

The gender gap between men and women in tech has disappeared according to the Dice Salary Survey when examining salaries of both genders at comparable levels of experience, education and job title. That's a dramatic statement, I know. But I don't think it's a surprising development. At the end of the day, tech is about skills and applying them to a problem or opportunity. For great programmers, security analysts or project managers, gender shouldn't play a role.

Given Silver's statement, I contacted Dice to try and get some additional information on this claim, and wanted some actual hard numbers that would lead to making it. What I was sent shows three examples of job titles: project managers, business analysts and quality assurance testers.

The salary numbers play out like this (all based on same job title and four-year college degrees):

Project Managers Men 1 to 2 years: 63,000 3 to 5 years: 71,615 6 to 10 years: 83,606

Women 1 to 2 years: 68,483 3 to 5 years: 66,953 6 to 10 years: 85,189

Business Analysts Men 1 to 2 years: 47,515 3 to 5 years: 71,564 6 to 10 years: 82,936 11 to 14 years: 101,483

Women 1 to 2 years: 63,453 3 to 5 years: 64,884 6 to 10 years: 80,470 11 to 14 years: 107,305

QA Testers Men 1 to 2 years: 33,700 3 to 5 years: 56,768 6 to 10 years: 66,493

Women 1 to 2 years: 37,500 3 to 5 years: 54,250 6 to 10 years: 71,781

You'll notice that in a number of these examples and experience levels that women are making more money than men based on this study. The thing that comes to mind for me, however, is that women may not be getting the kinds of raises and promotions their male peers get, given the discrepancies between those middle experience levels, something Dice hasn't really touched on, but I suspect could be in play.

Hunches aside, the numbers do appear to show that gaps in salary based on job title are smaller than you might have imagined. But remember, this is just one study of Dice participants.

According to data on annual averages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, (PDF) in 2008 there were about 907,000 women working in computer and mathematical occupations, compared with 2.75 million men in the same field. It isn't clear how many women participated in the annual Dice salary survey.

I don't think you can fully say that the gender gap -- even for tech workers -- is over, but you can see that real strides are being made in closing the gap. Technology may be one of the best places for the collapse of the gender gap to take place given the emphasis on technical skill sets over anything else, but it's by no means something I would back with one isolated study that displays three job titles. But it's certainly something to watch.

Here are a few more details from Dice on its findings:

  • Women technology professionals, as a group, earned 12% less on average than men. The Gender Gap, in isolation, is in terms of mean salaries.
  • In all cases, once we controlled for the confounding variables, gender was no longer a statistically significant factor. That is, all things being equal -- years of experience, educational levels, and job title -- salaries are statistically equal between men and women.
  • In sum, we can conclude that, yes, women earn less than men on the whole, but they have very different job titles, and therefore we would expect their earnings to be different.

The questions, however, on promotions, raises and management positions still abound.

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