Women In Tech – Still Not a Pretty Picture
Just in time for National Women’s Month, ex-Uber employee Susan Fowler’s recent accounts of sexual harassment at the beleaguered ride hailing company highlighted the ongoing issues for women in the tech industry. And it’s not a pretty picture.
In Silicon Valley and in start-ups across the country, bro culture, an Animal House-like frat boy behavioral pattern, continues to thrive.
A Paysa data-based analysis finds that women in tech still lag in both the number of jobs they hold and the amount of pay they receive compared to men.
What is unclear is whether this discrepancy exists because women are put off by the bro atmosphere or whether the bro atmosphere itself is a result of not enough females going the STEM route in high school and college to even things up in the tech workplace.
What is clear are the numbers illustrating how deep and intractable the issue remains.
Big picture Paysa data finds that men outnumber women in tech companies by an average 75% to 25% ratio. And women who work in tech make on average about $24,111 less per year than their male counterparts for similar work.
Despite Tech Industry Gender Issues, Women Have Come a Long Way in the Work World
While the tech industry’s shortchanging women is not to be taken lightly, it is important to recall how much women have advanced in a relatively short time.
As recently as the 1960s, only 33% of American women worked outside the home according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They basically faced three job options – nurse, secretary or teacher. And they were expected to work only until they married unless they never married. (Divorce was stigmatized and relatively rare).
Today 57% of American women work outside the home and can choose to be anything – well, except maybe president of the United States.
In 1976, Apple was founded in Cuptertino, CA launching the home computer industry. But just one year before, women were finally allowed to have their own credit cards. And it wasn’t until the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988, that women could get a business loan without needing to have a male relative co-sign. Today 8.6 million American women own businesses, generating more than $1.3 trillion in revenue as reported in the Huffington Post.
Tech, however, remains a final frontier.
Lack of Women in Tech: What the Numbers Say
Although tech has its Princess Leia in Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook who famously urged women to “lean in” to get ahead in tech, along with some other female tech leaders most of Paysa’s top ranked tech companies are lopsided when it comes to gender.
Nest Labs, maker of smart thermostats and smoke detectors, 28th in Paysa’s rankings, is 100% male. No women at all. Women’s fashion accessory company Stella and Dot, in 79th place on Paysa’s top 100 tech companies list, does the best for women in tech with a 50/50 split between male and female workers.
Here’s a look at Paysa stats on 10 high ranking well-known companies and how they fare with gender diversity:
Company Paysa Rank Men Women
Uber 1 84% 16%
Airbnb 2 74% 26%
Google 3 79% 21%
Pinterest 4 74% 26%
Facebook 5 80% 20%
Amazon 9 82% 18%
Lyft 11 81% 19%
Snap 12 75% 25%
Twitter 20 84% 16%
Netflix 21 82% 18%
A survey of 550 female tech workers worldwide, released in early March by non-profit global technology association ISACA and reported in USA Today, highlighted their concerns about a lack of mentors (48%), absence of female role models in the field (42%) and gender bias in the workplace (39%).
The Wage Gap Is Real
Discrimination against women gets real when it hits their wallets. Analysis of U.S. government data by Catalyst and Pew Research Center finds:
- Over 40 years, the average American woman who works full-time will lose $460,000 due to the wage gap
- A woman would need to work approximately 60 additional full days each year to catch up with men’s earnings
But progress has been made over the last couple of decades. Pew Center research notes that women have narrowed the wage gap in hourly earnings by 22 cents from 1980 when they earned, on average, 60 cents for every dollar earned by a white man to 2015 when they earned 82 cents.
The hurdles to further progress, ranging from outright discrimination and low-paying occupations to cultural expectations that still place the burden of child-rearing on women, are steep, says a USA Today article on gender pay inequality. The article says that women with children under 18 are among the lowest paid compared to women without children and to men.
The wage gap persists in tech, current Paysa data shows with women in tech earning on average $24,111 less than men in similar positions. Paysa uses artificial intelligence to develop logarithms that crunch data for hundreds of thousands of resumes and current salary information.
Average tech salary:
M – $189,011
F – $164,899
5 Tech Companies Paying Women Less Than Men
A close analysis of Paysa data spotlights pay differences between women and men in similar jobs all across the tech industry but especially egregious in five leading tech companies. Overall some of these differences but not all could be chalked up to those Pew Research cites in levels of educational attainment or gender-based differences in negotiating and assertiveness skills. “The remaining gaps not explained by these concrete factors are often attributed, at least in part, to discrimination,” Pew analysts state.
Gender discrimination and the disparity in pay helps explain why, as previously noted by Paysa, women are more than twice as likely to quit the tech industry as men (41% vs 17%). A recent study of 4,000 women found that the main reason women quit is because of “a concern for the lack of advancement opportunity.” And a survey of books, articles, and white papers on this topic concludes that women leave the tech industry because “they’re treated unfairly; underpaid, less likely to be fast-tracked than their male colleagues, and unable to advance,” according to the website Tech Diversity Files.
Paysa data spotlights five specific tech companies with pay gaps between male and female tech employees for similar roles. Of the five studied, Salesforce had the largest and IBM had the smallest discrepancy in pay between the genders.
Salesforce Pay Gap – $23,689
M – $234,840
F – $211,151
Microsoft Pay Gap – $14,864
M – $255,954
F – $270,818
Oracle Pay Gap – $10, 938
M – $163,874
F – $152,935
Amazon Pay Gap – $10,605
M – $231,670
F – $221,065
IBM Pay Gap – $4,324
M – $98,369
F – $94,045
IBM may have the advantage here of being a mature company with an experienced HR department compared to companies with shorter histories that have grown rapidly in the era of fast-paced start-up culture.
Girls Still Lag in High School AP Computer Science Classes
Tech companies may have difficulty increasing their numbers of female employees if the applicant pool of women simply isn’t there. And according to data from the College Board which oversees AP (advanced placement) testing, it may not be there in the near future.
The College Board notes on its website that in 2013 about 30,000 students total took the AP exam for computer science, a course in which students learn to design and create computer programs. On average less than 20 percent of those students were female.
The College Board is the nonprofit organization that since 1899 has administered the college entrance exam the SAT. In recent years it expanded to include AP exams that give high school students college credits for passing an exam based on taking an advanced placement high school class of college level work. Passing the AP subject test allows students to bypass prequisite classes in college and head straight to meatier courses.
The data was analyzed and compiled by Barbara Ericson, the director of computing outreach and a senior research scientist at Georgia Tech and reported in Education Week.
Even though the College Board has reportedly stepped up its focus on trying to ensure that traditionally underrepresented groups of students have access to AP courses and tests, in the 47 states where girls took the computer science exam, the percentage of female test-takers ranged from about 4 percent in Utah to 29 percent in Tennessee. And no girls took the test in three states.
And the pass rate for females who took the AP computer science test that year was well below that for males.
Shortage of Women Tech Job Applicants and Bro Culture
The lack of women in tech presents a chicken or the egg conundrum with the shortage of women tech job applicants creating a “bro” culture that then becomes intimidating for qualified women to try to enter.
“So you are a company that is growing so quickly, and there’s such a power shortage in Silicon Valley as is. You need to hire anyone who can scale that data center, and if that’s a white man, that’s a white man,” Silicon Valley journalist Sarah Lacy states in a recent Vox article Uber and the problem of Silicon Valley’s bro culture
“Women say they don’t want to be the first female on these all-male engineering teams because of how bad the bro culture is. You really, really have to think of it from day one, and founders simply don’t believe it’s the biggest problem they have to solve.”
She asserts in the article that several studies have shown that 95 percent of white men in Silicon Valley do not believe diversity is a top problem, and 75 percent of companies in Silicon Valley don’t even believe it’s enough of a problem to have any sort of program at all within their companies to solve it.
Get Rich Quick Attitude Contributes to Tech Gender Issues, Says “Silicon Valley” Writer
Speaking recently at the SXSW conference, Danny Lyons, one of the writers for the HBO series “Silicon Valley” asserted that the sexist culture in tech was a by-product of a focus primarily on making quick cash.
Today, he explained according to an account of his comments in Light Reading, companies go public without making any money, which was uncommon until the 21st century. He claimed that out of 60 tech IPOs since 2011, only ten made a profit. Twitter, for example, he said went public losing money and has since lost another $2.5 billion. Yet its founders and venture capitalists got rich.
“If you’re not trying to build a long-term sustainable company, then you don’t care about employees or diversity,” he said. “You want to get rich quick.”
However as more tech companies mature and become long term stable enterprises, it is anticipated that their cultures will change and become more inclusive to women as well as underrepresented people of color as well as older members of the workforce.