Technology

Women in tech still earn far less than men, study finds

For all the lip service the technology industry pays about valuing diversity and equality, it has struggled to close the gender pay gap, according to new research from Glassdoor, a website where current and former employees anonymously review companies and management.

The report, based on 534,000 anonymously shared employee salaries, found that the largest pay gap — adjusted for experience, education, position, location, and industry — existed among certain types of computer programmers, with men making on average 28.3% more than their female counterparts.

Among programmers, scientific and mainframe computer coders saw the greatest disparity. Significant gaps also existed in tech jobs such as video game artists (15.8%), information security specialists (14.7%) and front-end engineers (9.7%).

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The pay disparity among those coders ranked just above chefs (where the adjusted gap is 28.1%), dentists (also 28.1%), and senior executives (27.7%)

There are many reasons why such significant gaps exist, but one simple answer, according to Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor who spearheaded the report, is workplace bias.

"My view is that in heavily male-dominated fields, the people who are making the decisions about pay and promotion are disproportionately men, and that can play a role in why we're seeing gaps in male and female pay," he said. "It's not the case in every one of these occupations, but it's the case in these tech fields."

The professions that came closest to achieving pay parity were event coordinators (with men on average making 0.2% more than women) and therapists and business cooordinators (with women on average making 0.5% more than men in both these occupations).

Overall, Glassdoor's findings were consistent with data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which found that women who work full time earn on average 75 to 80 cents for every dollar earned by men — a pay gap of about 20% to 25%.

Adjusted for age, education and years of experience, Glassdoor found a pay gap of 19.2%. When Glassdoor compared workers with the same job title, employer and location, that gap fell to an average of 5.4% (94.6 cents per dollar).

The research did not collect data such as ethnicity, socioeconomic background, family size or whether the employee negotiated his or her salary, although Chamberlain said those factors probably played a role in the pay gap too and more research needs to be done.

Still, he believes releasing this data will help encourage conversations about the pay gap and help do away with pay secrecy.

"Many companies are scared to talk about the gender pay gap because they feel like they're being accused of discrimination," Chamberlain said. "I'm hoping that this study will help move them beyond that."

tracey.lien@latimes.com

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on March 23, 2016, in the Business section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Computer programmers' gender pay gap is widest" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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