A recent study from Glassdoor examines the gender gap in pay and satisfaction between men and women at tech companies. Their findings show women make less and are less satisfied with their jobs.
Glassdoor's Scott Dobroski said they decided to look into what data they had regarding pay and reported satisfaction after recurring discussion about equal pay for men and women.
The decided to look at a sample of the 25 largest tech companies, companies for which they had a large amount of data.
To determine satisfaction level, they looked at the reviews and comments from employees about their workplaces, that they had specific to men and women. For pay, they looked at gender, job title, and years of experience.
"The main takeaway is that there is an employee satisfaction and pay gap still within the tech industry right now. It's not all or everything for each company, but what we found is in most cases, men are slightly more satisfied and in most cases, men are still getting paid more for the same role than women," he said.
Dobroski did note a few potentially influential factors around the report, including that all the companies are in the US, and there might be more data was not included because Glassdoor does not require members to list their gender.
At Microsoft, a software development engineer with 3.2 or 3.3 years of experience averages $94,967 as a woman, and $101,006 as a man. At HP, a woman with 9.8 years of experience averages $91,730, while a man with 8.5 makes $96,423. Qualcomm and Oracle also have notable discrepancies, instances where women with either greater or equal experience are paid less.
On the reverse side of the trend, Google's female software engineers with roughly 3.5 years of experience earn about $4,000 more than their male counterparts. At Intel, women with 3.8 years experience average about $1,000 more than men with a year more experience.
One trend Dobroski commented on was the widening of the gap, in some cases, in higher level roles.
While the report does not reveal why this might be the case, Ruthe Farmer, chief strategy officer for the National Center for Women in Information Technology said there can be a number of reasons why women don't advance in the workplace. For one, there's the language used in performance evaluations. Farmer said women tend to be described with less aggressive language — they're "helpers" and "team players" while men are "go-getters" and "leaders."
She also said there can be the perception that women don't need to advance and get raises because they're not typically breadwinners.
Some biases are outright, some unconscious. She said many companies are now undertaking efforts like unconscious bias training and examining the ways in which their practices are not gender neutral, even down to language used in ads. There's even a Tumblr that gathers ads from the tech industry that use almost exclusively masculine language, down to the pronouns. A company advertising for a "server guy" is sending a message whether it knows it or not.
Also, Farmer said that when women start off making less, managers might get the impression they are worth less to the company, and that association stays with those women as they try to advance.
"When you cost more, you're seen as being worth more, so subconsciously people will go, 'Oh, he got more, so he must be worth more,'" she said.
Another potential reason for the shortage of women in higher level positions is the scarcity in the field — there are far fewer women even available to move up.
In the 1980s, the percentage of women majoring in computer science fell from more than 35% to less than 20% in present day, according to NPR. NPR's story explored reasons why, including the way that the personal computer was marketed heavily toward males. In pop culture, as Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, also pointed out, the image of computer scientists was cemented as male — think Weird Science or Revenge of the Nerds.
"It was a guy typing at his computer, it wasn't a young innovative girl, and I think that girls saw those images and they opted out," she said.
Often, there's discussion of how to get girls to opt in, there's talk of a pipeline, the idea of creating a steady flow of girls and women getting interested in and educated in computer science.
"A pipeline implies that even if it's leaky, the pipeline was designed for flow, but the system for women and girls is actually more of an obstacle course. Women become technologists in spite of all the things we put ahead of them, not because of," Farmer said.
That's why Saujani and others see the need for programs like Girls Who Code. She said 95% of girls who graduate the program say they're going to major or minor in computer science. Saujani will be watchful of where those students end up in just a few years as they pursue internships and later, full time employment.
"I am confident that in 10 years from now, women are not going to be 20% of the tech workforce. We're going to get the numbers that we saw in the 80s and get gender parity shortly after that," Saujani said.
For now, Farmer said there are companies that are undertaking programs and initiatives relating to topics like unconscious bias training to improve their practices.
"The fact that companies are now looking at their pay systems and they're looking at their numbers of men and women in the different roles — that's a good thing. Once you start tracking the data, you can see trends, and you understand that maybe there's something wrong with your system," Farmer said. The most important step, though, is to actually take action after recognizing the problem.
Saujani also noted the anonymous comments Glassdoor supplied with the report. Quotes from Facebook and IBM in particular were positive, and in Facebook's case, the commenter mentioned receiving support as a woman in the tech community.
"I think that it shows that when you have really strong leadership, so Sheryl Sandberg and Sandy Carter, that filters through the organization and I think people feel good about what the company is doing for women in leadership," she said.
In a separate report from Glassdoor, "a full 67% of active and passive job seekers said that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers." That means that allowing inequality in whatever form (gender, race, ethnicity, etc.) to go unchecked in the workplace, could end up being a turn off for potential tech talent.
In the midst of various studies from various sources, whether they be Glassdoor, Dice, or the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Catherine Ashcraft, senior research scientist for National Center for Women & Information Technology at the University of Colorado Boulder, said what comes next is important.
"It's a good opportunity for people to not just get hung up on the numbers or wring their hands in despair over the numbers. That's a good place to start, and then there's all these kinds of things companies can do to make improvements and make their environments more inclusive," Ashcraft said.
Dobroski summed up the implications of the report like this: "For employers to really recruit the best talent, regardless of gender, they need to be aware of where these differentiators lie and they need to figure out how big or small they are within their workforce and address them accordingly."
- Ruthe Farmer: NCWIT strategist. Computer science advocate. Tech Dumbledore.
- Reshma Saujani: Movement-starter to rebalance women in technology
- Kathy Button Bell: CMO. Moment Marketer. Big Picture Person. Athlete.
Erin Carson has nothing to disclose. She doesn't hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Erin Carson is a Staff Reporter for CNET and a former Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.