Women Who Code Equal Pay Day Report

Written by WWCode HQ

The gender wage gap is a global issue with moral and practical implications leading to endemic problems that permeate every level of the tech industry. In Silicon Valley, the average man makes 61% more than the average woman.

“I discovered I was making more than 20k less than the male coworker I had trained and recruited to the company. I then was told it was against company policy to discuss anyone else’s salary and had to defend the position that I should make as much as him. It was horrible and humiliating.”
- WWCode Member

At the corporate level, companies lose profits and productivity due to issues forming gender diverse teams with unique perspectives. The technology industry is in dire need of talented engineers, but pay inequality dissuades women from pursuing a career in tech and 56% of women leave their employers mid-career.

“A few years ago I took a job via a contracting company. I was paired up with a guy who was 22 years my junior. I ended up doing at least 80% of the work on the 10-month project. When the contract ended I found out I was making $10 an hour less than him.”
- WWCode member

The following survey conducted from the WWCode Community aims to increase transparency around the gender wage gap and amplify the voice of women in technology in the fight for pay equality.

The overwhelming majority of engineers (96.9%) polled believe that men are paid more than women in the tech industry, which is a 5.5 percentage point increase from last year’s survey. Despite awareness of the issue, 42% of women left their job due to unequal pay policies this year showing the work that still needs to be done to achieve equal pay.

Of those surveyed, 41.9% reported leaving a job after discovering unequal pay policies at their company, with 22.5% acknowledging it as a big factor in their decision to leave. This demonstrates the importance of equal compensation to tech professionals and the potential role equal pay plays in the turnover of female employees. This is an improvement in comparison to 2019, where 39.3% of respondents reported leaving a company because of pay inequality.

“I started as one of the highest-paid developers at an agency — I had twice as much experience as anyone else and negotiated aggressively. Then my male peers started getting promoted around me; they got bigger opportunities, stronger titles and bigger salaries. I got promises of opportunities that were on the horizon but never seemed to materialize. By the time I left after two years, I was making less than developers who couldn’t even deliver projects on time and on budget.”
- WWCode member

With nearly 87% of respondents noting a preference for companies with transparent pay practices, this highlights the importance of this initial step in achieving pay equity. When companies conduct regular internal audits of compensation and promotion and publish their results, it creates accountability around upholding their policies. As employees continue to voice the vitality of transparent pay practices, organizations must commit to them if they want to develop greater diversity and inclusion.

After hearing from our community that salary transparency was important, we added a feature to our job board for companies to share the salary range. It is an extra step for recruiters but allows companies to demonstrate their commitment to equality.

“Keeping salary information “confidential” is one of ways that the pay gap continues to be present in many companies. When you get hired, the warning is that you should not discuss your salary with anyone… Even sharing anonymously would be a huge help in narrowing the pay gap. People would then see what their peers with the same set of skills are getting paid and therefore would be able to ask for a raise or negotiate the salary they deserve.”
- Darnèle Adhemar

81.9% of IT professionals responded that they believe that the pay gap is larger for women of color. This demonstrates a clear understanding that while equal pay is an issue for all women, different marginalized groups experience different levels of pay inequality.

“I fall into a double whammy of minorities being a Hispanic woman. Not only is there a wage gap but advancement opportunities are also far limited. There is definitely a lower glass ceiling than our male counterpart so the wage gap isn’t my only concern.“
- WWCode Mexico member

“I actively encourage black women to negotiate aggressively during salary conversations so they start on equal footing. If you start at a disadvantage and expect a raise later you almost never catch up to your colleagues.”

- Gloria Kimbwala

A little less than a quarter of the people who took this survey indicated that equal pay was their top workplace issue. While it is not a majority response, the wage gap is interlocked with many other existing issues such as systemic bias resulting in employee attrition and unhappiness. These results highlight the potential other areas of concern affected by equal pay that also need to be addressed.

“I think we need to continue our focus on bias awareness. I encourage women to be a bit open and collaborative with the way they discuss salaries and advocate for each other. I also think that women intentionally securing more workplace sponsorship will help us get the needle moved”
- Isa Watson

While this survey clearly demonstrates that the majority of IT professionals recognize pay inequality as an issue, the respondent’s results suggest change is possible. The majority of respondents (65%) believe that the wage gap could be eliminated in their lifetimes which is lower than the 2019 survey at 81.2%.

This data highlights the work left to do, the importance of continuing to push companies to adopt more transparent pay practices, and the necessity of open conversations about salary in order to achieve equal pay for all. Women Who Code works extensively with companies to ensure awareness and follow-through of best practices such as conducting regular audits of salaries and promotions, while also empowering women around the world to become leaders themselves to affect the change they want to see in the world.

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