The gender pay gap in data science in the US shrunk from 9.4% to 8.4% over the past year, according to research from Harnham. While some improvement is seen at the entry and mid-levels, the executive level has more room for improvement.

Harnham separated its research into three Data and Analytics Diversity Reports, each focusing on responses from the US, UK, and Europe, respectively. With more than 3,000 global responses from data science professionals, the reports outlined gender and racial diversity in the global data and analytics industry.

SEE: IT leader’s guide to achieving workplace diversity (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion in tech have been long standing issues, and as companies have searched for solutions, the diversity and inclusion tech market hit $100 million this year, according to a Mercer and RedThread research report.

“With 800+ CEOs signing onto the CEO Action Pledge for Diversity and Inclusion, it’s clear that the objective of creating diverse and inclusive teams is here to stay,” said Lauren Romansky, managing vice president in Gartner’s HR practice.

Companies have worked to promote diversity and inclusion by removing unconscious bias from the hiring process, making sure HR teams are representative of minorities, and create dedicated Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) committees, reported TechRepublic’s Kristen Lotze in Diversity in tech: 5 recruiting and retention tips.

Another strategy companies employ involves “creating compelling employee resource groups that are not only there to support underrepresented talent, but also to partner with allies to drive change,” Romansky said.

No matter what strategy is used, maintaining a diverse workforce is advantageous for any organization. “Organizations benefit from successful collaboration amongst different perspectives and viewpoints,” said June Severino Feldman, CMO of Intelligent Product Solutions. “The greater the gender and ethnic diversity and a company’s ability to collaborate effectively, the greater the potential for successful outcomes.”

Across the world, improvements have been made, but we are far from equality. Here is the break down, by region, of Harnham’s research.

Data and analytics diversity in the US

Over the past few years, efforts to improve diversity in the data and analytics industry have focused on getting more women into STEM roles. While more women than men are receiving graduate degrees in STEM subjects, the ratio of female to male professionals across data and analytics professions has dropped slightly in the last year, the report found.

Data science and data and technology are the two largest areas in the data and analytics field, and they are also the most disproportionate, with 84% and 83% occupied by men, respectively. In total, only 23% of data and analytics roles are held by women. To gain a greater female presence in data and analytics, the enterprise must first see improvement in data science and data and technology, according to the report.

Another key metric of workplace gender equality is pay. Overall, the gender pay gap in data and analytics has narrowed over the past year. Data and technology professionals have the smallest gap, at 4%, and the largest gap only reaches 6% in digital analytics professions, the report found.

However, concerns at the executive level remain. The report found that the pay gap widens to 11% at senior levels of data and analytics jobs.

This pattern is also reflected in the seniority breakdown of female and male employees. While 29% of women occupy entry level positions in data and analytics, only 19% occupy technical leads, and 13% occupy director positions, the report found.

“As STEM continues to become an increasingly important skillset and as the digital economy continues, continuing to bring women into STEM and tech will be an important component of closing the pay gap,” Romansky said, indicating these issues go hand-in-hand.

The pattern persists with ethnicity. Minority-ethnic groups make up 70% of entry level data and analytics roles, but less than half of technical leads (48%) and directors (39%), according to the report.

One of the most overlooked aspects of diversity and inclusion is age, according to the report. Younger professionals dominate the data and analytics industry. Some 60% of US data and analytics professionals are below the age of 35, which is unsurprising, as younger generations are known to be more comfortable with evolving tech skills.

Data and analytics diversity in Europe

Slightly greater than the US, 25% of data and analytics roles in Germany are held by women. This small improvement doesn’t span across Europe, however, with Spain (21%), the Nordics (20%), and France (19%) trailing behind, the report found.

The gender pay gap in Europe is larger than in the US. The smallest is Germany, at 4%, while the largest is Spain, at 25%. Across countries, however, the pay gap follows a similar pattern to the US in higher level positions. For all regions, the pay gap widens when moving from a mid-level to a director level position.

Overall, 28% of entry level data and analytics positions in Europe are occupied by women, but that number drops to 17% for technical leads and directors. No data was available for ethnicity in the Europe-focused report.

As for the ages of those in data and analytics, 66% are below the age of 35, almost the same percentage as in the US.

SEE: Hiring kit: Chief diversity officer (TechRepublic Premium)

Data and analytics diversity in the UK

The UK has the same percentage of women occupying data and analytics professionals at 25%. Similar to the US, the biggest splits were in data science and data and technology roles, which both had 82% of roles occupied by men. For an improvement to be seen across the industry, those two sectors must first improve, according to the report.

The UK has seen the most success in decreasing its data and analytics gender pay gap, dropping from 13.3% in 2018 to 7.2% in 2019. Similar to the other regions, the pay gap widens in more senior roles. While the pay gap in the data and technology sector is only 5%, that gap jumps to 38% for directors in that same area. The same goes for data science, which jumps from 16% at entry level to 25% at the technical lead level, the report found.

A significant amount of work needs to be done to increase racial representation in UK data and analytics roles. A whopping 75% of these positions are taken by white professionals, while 13% are taken by Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Arab, and less than 5% for both Black and Asian, the report found.

This ethnic disparity is also apparent in the UK’s pay gap, which is at 8.5% in favor of white professionals. This number more than doubles at higher levels, reaching 18%, according to the report.

Reflecting both Europe and the US, the majority of data and analytics professionals are under the age of 35, the report found.

How to promote diversity

To help organizations close gender and racial gaps, the report surveyed respondents on what their most sought-after benefits are. Once made aware of these desires, companies can attempt to adopt these benefits and attract diverse talent.

Across all three reports two benefits that made the top five benefits for both men and women included working from home and health insurance. Men and women in both Europe and the US also indicated that they want flexible working hours, the report found.

Regardless of what strategy the company uses to encourage a diverse team, all team members must be on-board, starting from the top, Romansky said.

“We suggest a holistic approach,” Romansky continued. “It has to be a mandate supported by leadership with a variety of strategies that not only attract underrepresented talent—from sourcing, selection, and conversion—but then also engage and include that talent once they’re in the door.”

To welcome diverse talent,companies must work to eliminate bias. “Employers must also look at themselves and their biases honestly — it feels so much easier and natural to hire the guy who looks just like you, but to routinely follow this practice shortchanges the teams’ abilities to adapt, create and innovate,” Feldman said.

For more, check out IT strategy: How an investment in diversity can boost your business on ZDNet.

Also see

Image: iStockphoto/fizkes