Gender Discrimination

For years, companies across the technology industry have announced plans to reduce gender discrimination (also known as sexual discrimination), which is any action that specifically denies opportunities, privileges or rewards to a person (or group) because of gender. These plans often include a mix of employee training and education, along with an examination of hiring and management practices.

Perception of inequalities

As this year’s data makes clear, however, these very public attempts to combat gender discrimination haven’t yielded many positive results when it comes to the perception of technologists. Nearly six in 10 technologists who identify as women believe gender inequality occurs in the tech industry on a frequent or very frequent basis, nearly double the rate of technologists who identify as men (32%). That’s barely shifted from last year’s data, when 58% of technologists identifying as women and 31% of those identifying as men said that gender inequality was frequent or very frequent.

Transgender job applicants face unique challenges.

Transgender job applicants in the U.S. felt they were not able to be their full self during the application process, compared to 33% of cisgender applicants who felt this way, according to a recent study by McKinsey & Company.

Witnessed gender discrimination

Technologists who identify as women were also more likely to say they’d witnessed gender discrimination in salary and benefits, promotions, project and leadership opportunities, respect for technical abilities, additional code reviews and hiring. In many instances, the gap was quite stark: for example, 54% of those identifying as women said they’d witnessed salary-based gender discrimination, compared to 25% of men. Only 13% of those identifying as women said they’d never witnessed either gender discrimination in the tech industry, versus 34% of men.

Compensation and Gender

Salaries remain a key element in terms of technologists’ satisfaction with their overall careers. Fifty-three percent of technologists who identified as women reported being either somewhat or very satisfied with compensation in their current position, versus 58% of technologists identifying as men. While both groups show room for improvement in how tech talent is compensated, the lag that technologists who identify as women face is far from surprising, considering the well-documented historical gender wage gap.

How satisfied are you with the compensation in your current position?

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Satisfaction with current compensation

The countless number of guides geared toward women in tech for negotiating their salaries, and hard and fast known disparities (women making 82 cents for every dollar earned by men), have certainly helped encourage organizations to lessen the gap. With a continued lack of salary transparency in many organizations, it’s unclear on whether progress has been made; from the standpoint of the perception of technologists identifying as women, that progress has not materialized.

Perception of compensation equity

When it comes to the perception of compensation equity, 50% of women felt they were underpaid relative to others in their occupation with the same skill set, slightly more than the 47% of men who believed the same. With numerous studies showing men tend to get paid more for the same job, we would expect women to continue to feel more inequity when it comes to salary and compensation.

Pay transparency is one way some organizations (and U.S. city and state governments) are working to eliminate pay gaps and improve compensation equity. By knowing what others in similar roles to them make, there will be more ground to stand on when it comes to equity (so long as fair pay is occurring in the organization). To really drive the importance of compensation equity home, some argue this in the Inc. article “Why 2022 Is the Year of Pay Transparency;” that closing the wage gap is “at the heart” of fighting gender (and racial) inequalities.

Wage gap may be even wider for non-binary technologists.

On average, non-binary 2020 graduates earned significantly less than students who identified as men or women, according to the National Association of Colleges.

Do you think that you are underpaid relative to other people with your same occupation and skill level in your current job?

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Negotiating for salary

Despite feeling underpaid, half of technologists who identified as women said they didn’t negotiate salary in a new job at a new company (slightly more than men, at 47%). The numbers only grow for those who took a new job with their current company or stayed in their same job. Of those technologists who started a new job at their same company, 65% of technologists who identified as women didn’t negotiate their salary (slightly less than men, at 66%) and 69% of women didn’t negotiate as part of a salary review at their current job, compared to 70% of men.

Though women in tech have told us that they are often not as comfortable negotiating salary, especially if they feel the offer is fair, this is one of the few data points where we see only slight differences between genders, unlike between racial groups, where the gaps are much wider.

Did you negotiate your compensation for your…

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How Career Perception Differs by Gender

Technologists’ satisfaction with their jobs and overall careers tends to vary significantly by gender, suggesting that organizations have a lot to do if they want to keep their prized employees happy.

Satisfaction with career

How would you rate your level of satisfaction with your overall career?

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Sixty-three percent of technologists who identified as women said they were satisfied with their careers, versus 69% of technologists identifying as men. For technologists identifying as women, that’s unchanged from last year, whereas the number of satisfied men rose two percentage points year-over-year. Eleven percent of technologists identifying as women were actively dissatisfied with their careers, slightly higher than 10% of men.

Satisfaction with job

How would you rate your level of satisfaction with your current job?

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It was a similar story with technologists’ current roles. Fifty percent of technologists who identified as women said they were satisfied with their current job, a year-over-year decline of three percentage points, and slightly less than the 55% of men who were satisfied (virtually unchanged from last year). Meanwhile, nearly 20% of women reported dissatisfaction with their current jobs, compared to 19% of men.

Satisfaction with manager

That’s not a huge gap, but it’s a consistent one, and hints at an industry-wide imbalance when it comes to career and occupation satisfaction. In a somewhat more positive twist, most technologists identifying as women reported satisfaction with their managers (60%), but again, these numbers lagged technologists identifying as men, 62% of whom were satisfied with management. Given how managers are on the “front lines” when it comes to helping implement DEI policies, the relatively high degree of satisfaction (and the trust it implies) will prove key in building a more equitable future within organizations.

How would you rate your level of satisfaction with your current manager?

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Changing employers

Those managers will also face a number of challenges this year when it comes to keeping morale high and retaining their best technologists: Just over one-third (34%) of technologists who identified as women said they were likely to seek new employment in 2022, a notable increase over the percentage of technologists identifying as men who sought a change (29%).

Reasons for changing employers

While compensation is a huge factor in the decision to change jobs (70% of technologists identifying as women and 71% of technologists identifying as men cited this as a reason for a potential job switch), there are other reasons in play. Technologists who identified as women were far more likely than their male counterparts to switch jobs for better leadership (35% to 31%), better schedule flexibility (26% versus 22%), remote work (34% versus 27%) and better health benefits (35% to 30%).

Burnout

Generally speaking, how burned out do you feel as it pertains to your job?

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Why is schedule flexibility and remote work so key for technologists who identify as women? Nearly 35% of them report feeling burned out (compared to 31% of technologists identifying as men). Forty-one percent of women technologists cited workload as the prime cause of that burnout, compared to 37% of their male counterparts, and slightly more called out a lack of work/life balance (18% to 17%). With a more flexible schedule, women technologists can address these issues impacting their burnout levels and, presumably, their mental and physical health.

Reasons for burnout

What would you say are the two biggest reasons you feel burned out?

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The needs of technologists are diverse

The low unemployment rate in tech, and extraordinary demand for technologists across a range of industries, has left technologists feeling much more confident about their ability to get what they want from their next job. And technologists who identify as women really want (and potentially need, given the well-documented gender inequities in childcare and home demands — see below for more detail) remote work and flexible schedules; for example, they rated remote schedules as the third most-important potential benefit, behind health insurance and paid vacation days, whereas men cited 401(k) match. Sixty-one percent of women ranked working full-time from home as the most desirable current workplace setting, and 54% said they’d want to continue to do so long after the pandemic has passed. Eighteen percent of women who were willing to take a pay cut indicated a cut of 20% or greater would be worth never having to go into a physical office.

There is an increased need for caregiving across genders.

For managers and companies, these preferences illustrate a potential way to boost the satisfaction of technologists who identify as women: offering increased scheduling flexibility and remote work options, along with higher compensation. These satisfied workers, in turn, will likely stay in their current positions for quite some time to come — potentially even for a significant chunk of their career, given how much importance they are placing on flexibility in their responses today.

The Path to Gender Equality in Tech

Many organizations have made a concerted attempt to render internal policies, work environments and cultures more diverse, equitable and inclusive. Such efforts haven’t gone unnoticed by most technologists. Across the board, percentages of technologists who are impressed with their organization’s efforts improved in 2021.

Action to date

Prevalent gender discrimination, from a lack of promotional opportunities to the everyday perception that they’re incapable of doing their jobs, can have an intensely detrimental impact on a technologist’s career. While companies claim they’ve been making changes to policies and workplace culture to promote gender equality and stamp out any traces of discrimination, only four in 10 technologists who identify as women are either moderately or extremely impressed by their organization’s gender-based DEI efforts, slightly behind technologists who identify as men at 44%. And that’s despite nearly two-thirds of women technologists believing such efforts are important.

Reputation

For organizations everywhere, implementing a successful DEI policy is more than just checking a box. At a time when organizations everywhere are scrambling to secure the tech talent they need to accomplish their strategic aims, an impactful commitment to DEI and resulting programs and progress can make both prospective and current employees feel happier, more secure and in a better position to do their best work. Nearly two-thirds of technologists who identified as women said a company’s DEI-related reputation was a factor in their decision to work there, along with 46% of technologists identifying as men (up from 42% last year).

Diverse workforce

In addition, 69% of women respondents felt a good DEI policy boosted company morale and innovation; 43% thought it was beneficial to company profits; and 71% thought it contributed to collaboration. If a company wants to position itself as a great place to work (especially among younger technologists), as well as an excellent brand that consumers and clients want to associate with, DEI is quite simply an organizational imperative. Specifically, we’re talking about non-performative DEI; too many organizations made commitments in 2020, and in years prior, without backing those claims with tangible internal or external movement.

Parting Thoughts

Gender Equity Remains Key
As these numbers suggest, there is still much work to do in the years ahead. Standardizing hiring and devoting more attention to the career progression of technologists who identify as women is just the start; executives must ensure that everything from salaries to projects to management opportunities are all executed with gender equity in mind.