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4:30pm ET, 4/16


iconIf you'd like to close the giga-gap between men and women's earnings, check out the tech sector. Women there are making a lot closer to what men are making -- and in a few cases, surpassing the boys. Click here for's data on how male and female IT-ers fare in various technical professions.  

Working on the pay gap

He clicked,
she clicked

In this story:

Softer ware

Surf may be up, Gidget

Slip into something more technical


(CNN) -- Imagine a field in which women are paid well and make almost as much as their male counterparts. Then imagine that most women are shunning these jobs.

This is the way it is in technology professions in which job demand is outpacing the supply of qualified workers.

A study by found that, on average, women in tech careers are making 92 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn. While hardly full parity, it's considerably higher than the 73 cents on the dollar women earn compared to men in jobs overall, according to 1998 U.S. Census data.

graphic So whatdya tellin' us? You mean tech jobs aren't -- what? -- ladylike? You'll read in this story that a lot of women don't think tech is a career arena for them. Do you agree?

Yeah. IT is no place for a chick. Digital stuff is a man's work.
Hourglass. I'm waiting to see if more don't get in soon and loosen up the field a little. The money's pretty attractive.
C'mon, women have as much business in tech as guys. They have opposable thumbs just like men, I've seen 'em work keyboards.
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Yet women make up perhaps only 20 percent of the work force in technology jobs.

"There's sort of a stigma on a very base level about technology," says Karla Villatoro, public relations coordinator at Women in Technology International. "A feeling that you have to be a programmer, that you have to be cooped up in an office or in a lab, and that it's boring. And that it's nerdy.

"The reality is, everything you do from shopping to doing your job uses technology."


Softer ware

The study analyzed salary data from 106,133 technology professionals among the more than 640,000 members of the Minneapolis-based company that serves as an exchange for these workers and for businesses that want to recruit, market to, and interact with them.

More specifically, the salary data came from 87,075 men and 19,058 women. They ranged from entry-level to executive technology positions and across 39 U.S. job markets.

•   Women averaged $5,071 less in annual pay than men. Still, they, like the men, are paid well in these jobs. Women with less than a year of experience average $45,715 in salary. At the other end of the spectrum, women with 10 or more years in technology-related work average $74,923.


•   In many jobs, women with five years of experience or less were almost on a par in pay with their male counterparts. Those with one to two years of experience actually averaged slightly more than the men. But women with 10 or more years of experience averaged 9 percent less in wages than men with equivalent experience and skills.

•   The highest average salaries for both men and women in technology jobs were paid in the Northeast. The lowest were in the north-central region of the United States for men, and in the South for women. The biggest wage gender gap -- 10 percent -- was in the south-central region of the country.

•   In the Northwest -- home to technology titans Microsoft, and others -- women in technology careers said they earned only 86 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earned.


Surf may be up, Gidget

One reason women may fare so well wage-wise in technology compared to other jobs is simple demand. Despite an increasing number of layoffs in information technology jobs, an estimated 400,000 such jobs went unfilled last year. That number is expected to be seen again this year.

"Until five years ago, the demand wasn't as great for technical workers," says Anna Braasch,'s online community manager.

"I think strangely enough," Villatoro adds, "it has to do with the fact that there are so few women working in technology, and those that are working in the high technologies have so much experience and so much education and their level of expertise is so comparable that they're just seen as another engineer, another programmer."

The greater disparity in wages paid men and women with 10 or more years of experience may also be a reflection of employers' critical need for IT workers -- regardless of gender -- Braasch says.

graphic How a woman might fare on payday next to a man in the IT world depends to some degree on which technical profession she's in. In quality assurance and testing, the average woman will beat the guy to the money, for example. Click here to see some other trends according to technical professions, as surveyed by

"In another five years, the people who now have five years' experience will have 10 years' experience and they could be at equal pay," she says. "I see it leveling out over time."

Villatoro does too. "I find that now business programs are teaching a lot more soft skills," she says. "A lot more of the conflict resolution, public speaking. Younger women coming into technology have more of those soft skills and viable companies are looking for people who have a broader range of skills, not just the technological skills.

"The people who are just starting their careers -- five years and under -- have more of those skills, and therefore are more valuable to companies."


Slip into something more technical

Still, so few are out there -- and their numbers aren't increasing. While's membership has increased greatly since its 1994 launch, the 80-20 ratio of men to women has remained constant, Braasch says.

In fact, the number of young women with a technology major in college is declining, Villatoro says. "I think if we don't attract young women to technical careers, the (ratio) is going to increase."

An Arthur Andersen survey of teens found that while both boys and girls agreed that it's important to understand computers for future employment, boys were five times more likely to be interested in majoring in computer science or computer engineering than girls.

"Hopefully, if women see these numbers," Braasch says, "they'll become more interested in careers in technology, especially younger women -- high school and college."



Minorities in new media
January 17, 2001
Crowning careers: IT workers still rule
December 26, 2000
Workplace gender gap -- Women and men: Payday
December 12, 2000
Dual earners: Double trouble
November 13, 2000
Corporate careerists
November 10, 2000

Economic Policy Institute
Institute for Women's Policy Research
Women in Technology International

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