Each year, companies of 250 or more employees must publish a report detailing their gender pay gap. The latest reports show that in tech, 91.1% of companies pay their male employees more than their female staff. This puts the tech industry’s gender pay gap at 16%, higher than the national average of 11.6%. So, the tech industry gender gap is still a real problem in 2023, but what are the reasons for it being so unbalanced? How can we change it? In this article, we look at why the gender pay gap in tech exists and the steps we can take to narrow it.
The gender pay gap is defined as the difference in monetary earnings between male and female employees. Despite more than 50 years having passed since the Equal Pay Act, there is still a significant gap between men & women’s pay in the UK. Since 2017, employers with over 250 employees have been publishing their gender pay gap figures every April as part of pay gap reporting regulations. The pay gap does not mean that women are paid less for doing the same job, so these figures may suggest that men are dominating the top paying jobs and women are not as senior. This year’s report found that women in technology only occupied 23.5% of the top-paying jobs.
On a positive note, the gap has decreased compared to 2020-21, when it stood at 17.3%. This shows positive strides are being made, but Amanda Blanc, Aviva’s CEO, has estimated that it will take another 30 years for the pay gap to close if we are to continue at the “frustratingly slow” rate we are currently at. With 32% of women saying that the biggest challenge they face in tech is the pay gap, unless something is done we are likely to continue to see a gender skills gap in the industry.
Historically, technology has been a very male dominated sector. It’s currently estimated that 26% of the UK tech workforce are women. Whilst this is progress from where it was 5 years ago, the numbers still clearly favour men. In a report by pwc it was found that only 3% of women say that a career in technology would be their first choice. Many factors contribute to this disinterest and hesitance, and until these are addressed we are unlikely to change these statistics drastically.
Further to women being put off a tech career completely, some of the women who are pursuing STEM jobs are leaving the sector due to poor development opportunities. McKinsey’s 2021 ‘Women in the Workplace’ report found that for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 86 women are promoted. So, females are missing out on being promoted to more senior roles with higher pay, thus contributing to the gender pay gap in tech.
Others cite that the gender pay gap in tech exists due to ‘occupational segregation’ – the idea that the occupations dominated by men usually pay better than the ones dominated by women. Industries like healthcare, education and accommodation are where women have the most representation. These industries typically pay less, which results in the gender pay gap existing. However, within the technology industry there is no excuse as to why women should be being paid less.
Simply put, the main way that the technology gender pay gap can be closed is to increase female representation at all levels in the STEM sector. By distinguishing the idea that IT is a ‘boys club’ and inspiring young women to study STEM subjects, we can change the perceptions associated with the industry.
One of the main reasons women can’t picture themselves working in tech is because, well, they can’t see anyone relatable to them! When asked to name a famous woman working in technology, 78% of students couldn’t name one. And who can blame them? The heads of all the giant tech corporations are men – Apple, Google, Tesla, Amazon – they’re all run by men. By getting more women to talk about their careers in tech and how they are thriving, young women will be inspired to take the plunge themselves. Things like case studies, spotlight articles, news coverage and just general awareness will help this cause.
The pay gap exists due to men dominating the senior positions in tech. In the UK, just 22% of tech directors are women, and women are four times more likely to consider gender bias a barrier to promotion. However, tech companies are missing out by not having women in senior positions – female-led companies have been found to have improved turnover and happier staff, as well as more socially-responsible values. Women should be given the opportunity to upskill wherever possible, and feel empowered to apply for senior roles when they do come up without the fear of being disregarded because of their gender.
Flexible working has become the norm for many of us post-pandemic, with 30% of the UK workforce working from home at least 1 day per week. For busy working mothers, it has given a lifeline of having more time to juggle work and home life at the same time. Employers are embracing the benefits flexible working has given; improved employee satisfaction and wellbeing as well as reduced costs from running an office. However a benefit we don’t speak about as much is the impact it can have on reducing a company’s gender pay gap.
The benefits flexible working brings to women can help to encourage them to remain in work and, most importantly, thrive in areas where they are highly skilled. Prior to the huge increase of flexible working, women often had to either give up work or move to a part time role after having children. But with the option of flexi-hours and working remotely, women are able to return to their previous roles to continue their career. It is worth noting however that it is key that companies embrace flexible working at all levels of their business so that women feel they can move to more senior roles whilst working in a pattern which complements their home life.
The final way in which the gender pay gap can be addressed is holding businesses accountable for their gender pay gaps. The mandatory reporting is helping to make companies think about their pay gaps and ensure it is a priority to fix. Also, the regular media coverage the reporting gets ensures people are aware that it’s an issue. Each year, news coverage appears on the ‘Equal Pay Day’. Falling on 18th November last year, Equal Pay Day is a campaign run by The Fawcett Society, and marks the day where women effectively stop earning relative to men due to the pay gap.
By ensuring the pay gap is regularly talked about, we can raise awareness and therefore accountability to drive change and progress.
The gender pay gap is likely to remain an issue for years to come, with little progress being made in the recent years of reporting. Technology remains one of the sectors with the biggest gender pay gap, currently standing at 16% compared to the national average of 11.6%. By promoting women into senior positions, therefore creating role models, we hope that this number improves in years to come.