As Salaries Slump, Women IT Pros Lose Ground

The recession has flattened IT salaries--particularly for women--according to a survey released by IT job board Dice Inc.

The recession has flattened IT salaries--particularly for women--according to a survey released this week by IT job board Dice Inc.

Dice surveyed more than 61,000 technology professionals and found that tech salaries, which averaged $68,400 in 2001, were actually on the rise before they dropped off in the fourth quarter. The slump has hit women particularly hard: The salary gender gap—the difference between what women and men in comparable IT positions make—widened to 12 percent on average in 2001, up from 9 percent in 2000. This was evident even in top-paying positions. For example, male IT managers salaries averaged $101,500, compared with women IT managers average salary of $96,700, the Dice survey said.

The salary gap varies depending on job title, with hard-core, back-end technology-oriented titles such as database administrator and system administrator having gender salary gaps as high as 25 percent, according to Dice CEO Scot Melland, in New York. On the other hand, technology jobs such as technical writing and quality assurance testing have salary parity between the genders, he said. But, because layoffs trimmed those jobs more severely than core IT positions, women IT professionals have been affected disproportionately, Melland said.

The good news is that the gender gap in technology salaries is smaller than that in the overall economy, where women make about 72 percent of what their male counterparts make, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And, whereas the survey did find slumping salaries overall, that wasnt true for all industries and job titles. MIS managers, mainframe systems workers and client/server developers saw salaries increase in 2001. The best-paid positions for the year were IT management, with an average salary of $100,800; project manager, at $90,100; and systems developer, at $86,300. Industries that are still experiencing IT salary growth include those in which companies tend to rely on large, mission-critical systems: the financial industry, where IT salaries of $80,600 are the norm; utilities, at $74,700; and telecommunications, at $74,100.

Dice found more good news for contractors, especially those reaching out to solicit work from small businesses. In 2001, close to 30 percent of contractors worked in businesses with fewer than 50 employees. The best-paying work for consultants involved SAP, Peoplesoft and JD Edwards skills. The average yearly salary for contracts was $101,800.

Overall, the word on IT salaries is a positive one, Melland said. "The average [technology] salary of about $68,000 per year [is] 60 percent more than the average households income in the United States. [Technology still pays] well, and its still a great place for women to find parity."