Women (in IT) listen up - you have not, because you ask not

A recent blog by Tony Kontzer really got our attention here at Agile. And although the women who work at Agile were not pleased about the news, none of them seemed surprised.  It’s hard to believe that in this day and age, women still make less than men. Even in the technology industry, women are not paid the same as their male counterparts.

The U.S. Department of Labor published a report earlier this month about women and work. It shows that women in IT are paid 81.8 percent of what men earn in the same jobs. Another source cites a more positive number – women in certain tech jobs (i.e. computer programmers) make 93% of what men in the same position earn. For example, if a man makes $90,000 a year as a computer programmer, a woman in the same role will most likely only make $83,700. That’s $6,300 left on the table that the woman will probably never touch. Times that over the course of 5, 10 years and that adds up to a lot of cash!

So what’s going on here? Hi-tech companies have the reputation of being more gender blind and more progressive than other established industries. Then why does a wage gap still exist for women who are just as educated and just as talented as men doing the same jobs? Though it may be easy to point a finger and blame gender bias for the disparity, researchers agree that gender bias is not entirely responsible for the gap. Many experts and authorities suggest that at least some of the gap may exist because women are not as aggressive in negotiating (salaries).

Consider these stats:

  • Women, on average, ask for 30 percent less money than males.
  • Men are four times more likely to negotiate a first salary than women.
  • Men are eight times more likely than women to negotiate their starting salary and benefits.
  • Women ask for raises or promotions 85 percent less often than their male counterparts.
  • 20 percent of women (22 million people) say they never negotiate at all, even though they recognize negotiation as appropriate and even necessary.
  • 2.5 times more women than men said they feel "a great deal of apprehension" about negotiation.
  • When asked to pick metaphors for negotiations, men picked "winning a ball game match," while women picked "going to the dentist."

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO provides a fascinating discussion on why there are too few women leaders. During her presentation, she states that “Women systematically underestimate their own abilities. Women do not negotiate for themselves in the workforce. No one gets to the corner office by sitting on the side and not at the table…no one gets the promotion if they don’t think they deserve their success or they don’t even understand their success.” We encourage you to watch the entire 15-minute video and learn what else Sheryl has to say.

We decided to take a little poll of our own and asked our technical recruiters, based on their experience, whether women candidates negotiate salary and benefits as much (or aggressively) as men.  The response was split: half the recruiters said women do not negotiate like men and half said they do negotiate as much as men.

Bottom line: if you're a female IT professional, Agile recommends that you know what you want (salary/compensation) before you begin your job search, develop negotiation skills by taking a workshop or reading up on the topic, and then be prepared to negotiate -- no matter how uncomfortable it may be -- once a job offer is extended.  For tech employers, offer a competitive package to ALL of your candidates, regardless of gender, to ensure your company is always positioned to attract and hire the best IT talent.

So what do you think about the wage gap between men and women? What has your experience been as a job seeker, hiring manager or recruiter?

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