A SmartAsset report found the best cities for women in tech to live. While companies have attempted to improve conditions for female IT professionals, women remain at a disadvantage. The report determined which US locations had the best opportunities for these women.

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

Employment of computer and IT workers is projected to grow by 12% between 2018 and 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, employment opportunities still lean toward men.

Women only occupy 26% of the tech workforce nationally and are paid, on average, 83% of what men are, the report found. Despite slight improvements over the years, the gender wage gap persists today.

This gap impacts women significantly, which is what makes SmartAsset’s Women in Tech study so important, said AJ Smith, vice president of financial education at SmartAsset.

“It’s important to be thinking about overall how cities compare to each other, but also in your individual circumstances,” Smith said. “Are you seeing employment opportunities grow, but are you also seeing your income grow? Are you seeing more of your budget going to housing costs, leaving less leftover?

“We really hope it gets people thinking, whether they’re women or men, in tech or not in tech, because they all impact your life, especially your financial life,” she added.

The top 15 cities

The report ranked cities based on four key metrics: Gender pay gap in the tech industry, women’s earnings after housing, women as a percentage of the tech workforce, and four-year tech employment growth.

Image: SmartAsset

Baltimore coming in at No. 1 was new this year, Smith said. In the past six years of the report, Baltimore has come close to reaching the top, but this is the first year it succeeded.

“Washington, DC, had been No. 1 for a while, but Baltimore really came in and claimed the number one spot,” Smith said. “When you look at the data, it’s pretty clear that Baltimore actually edged out DC in three of the four metrics we analyzed. That is a really strong showing for Baltimore.”

An interesting aspect of the report is that major tech hub cities rarely reach the top, which is mainly due to the gender pay gap, Smith noted.

“Never once has San Francisco been No. 1 in our study. Never once has New York been No. 1,” Smith said. “There’s a couple of reasons for that. One is we’ve seen a growing pay gap for women in tech. That’s what the data shows over the years: New York’s been falling in our rankings since 2015, despite having tech employment growth.

“The other thing is that there are other cities that have a higher amount of income after housing costs. You may have high salaries for tech in New York and San Francisco, but people are paying more to live there,” Smith said.

“But we see cities like Arlington, Virginia, with $65,000+ left for housing costs; cities like Houston, Texas, with $64,000+,” Smith said. “New York income after housing costs is just under $57,000.”

Smith said that the right location for women in tech comes down to personal preference, but this list definitely takes into account affordability and livability.

For more, check out Why it’s time for the tech industry to take gender diversity seriously on ZDNet.

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Image: iStockphoto/Highwaystarz-Photography