PayScale Gender Report Reveals Female Software Engineers Get Paid 12% Less

How can companies encourage hiring more female engineers and close the gender wage gap for good?


Every employer says they want more female engineers, but the numbers tell a different story. If you were really wanting to recruit a certain demographic, wouldn’t you start by paying them fairly?

Every employer says they want more female engineers, but the numbers tell a different story. If you were really wanting to recruit a certain demographic, wouldn’t you start by paying them fairly? The PayScale Women at Work survey indicates that less than 5 percent of all software architects are women. Further, women in software engineering jobs earn at least 12 percent less than men in similar jobs. A LinkedIn survey supports this data, revealing that less than one-tenth to a quarter of all software engineers are women. Only 9 percent of all current software engineers are women in the hardware technology sector, with the highest of 23 percent working in the financial services and insurance market. 

Have technology companies made the workplace female friendly?

Some companies have come a long way in terms of offering women the chance to excel in software careers, others have a lot to learn. Consider Facebook and Apple, who offer female employees the chance to freeze their eggs for future family-planning so they can focus  on building their careers; AOL, that offers leadership building and professional networking programs just for women; and Intel that provides coordinated pregnancy programs for expecting parents. (Source: Silicon Angle)

While Silicon Valley is stepping it up with women friendly perks, they seem to be missing one key element: equal salary. After all, parking spots don’t pay the bills.

Advances in technology have led to a huge demand for skilled professionals, however there are still gaps between the career opportunities and compensation that women and men enjoy.  It’s time to close the gender gap in the industry so that more women software engineers can shine!

Reasons for low numbers of females in the software industry

For years, women have struggled to break through certain stereotypes and egalitarian attitudes that pervade in the technology workplace. Silicon Valley, the center of software growth, hasn’t given women a real chance. A USA Today article pointed out that the low number of women in technology is because of a peer-based referral system that is focused on white men. Typically, women and other minorities are not connected professionally to those who already work in technology. In companies like Apple, Google, and Yahoo – Caucasian and Asian men account for between 60 to 70 percent of the workforce.

Women in Technology Fact

Even if they do get hired, many women who work in technology face constant harassment, criticism, and ostracism from their male counterparts. The proverbial fan was hit when Julia Ann Horvath, a respected software engineer at GitHub left the company in 2014 citing “a hostile work environment and harassment” while employed at the startup. She openly talked about her experience on Twitter, saying,” I’ve been harassed by ‘leadership’ at GitHub for two years.” It was later revealed that the harassment was from a male co-worker and the wife of one of the company founders.
Women in technology careers across the nation face similar scenarios. They are often treated as outsiders in a male-driven industry. Women have to fight for coveted technology jobs, only to find out they are not part of the “boys club”. Then, if they do reach higher levels of responsibility or pay, they are mistreated by their colleagues, or not offered salary advancement opportunities.

Making the case for hiring more female software engineers

Women are fully capable, and in most cases, extremely smart and willing to do what it takes to excel in software engineering careers. While they may face the same challenges as other women in the workplace, it makes good business sense to hire them. Hiring women software engineers provides the diversity and innovation that only the female perspective brings.

4 ways to hire and retain top female engineers

Use the following best practices for attracting, hiring, and retaining the best female software engineers:

Pay them well. Our salary surveys indicate that organizations are not paying women fairly, therefore it’s critical that you hire and pay all software engineers, male or female, the same competitive wages. Offer all technology talent the same chance to earn and advance in their careers.

Respect their choices. It’s true that women in technology may or may not choose to become parents at some point in their careers (so do men!), but it has no bearing on their ability to perform on the job. Offer employees the opportunity to delay starting families if they decide this is an option for them, but do not expect this. 

Give them work life balance. For those women who are raising families or caring for aging parents, provide benefits that include plenty of work life balance. Create compensation programs that provide flexible working arrangements, like telecommuting and flextime, and the ability to take time off when needed. 

Extend the incentives. Special benefits for female employees can also include certain additional perks, such as pregnancy parking spots, private nursing rooms, and onsite daycare services. This can help in recruitment and retention efforts, as well as reduce employee performance issues.

The truth is, we need more women in all technology industries, but most especially in software development and design. If companies make an effort to make the workplace more female-friendly and create a culture of respect for both sexes, the entire technology field stands to benefit. 

Worried you might be opening yourself to legal action through pay discrimination? Get a PayScale demo now! In the meantime, learn more about the gender wage gap by downloading your copy of our free report.  

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