Women in IT: A lopsided pay scale

Salary inequity between men and women in IT still present

According to Computerworld's annual US Salary Survey, male IT professionals continue to outearn their female counterparts.

At the highest level of IT, male CIOs and vice presidents made on average US$179,026 in total compensation this year, while women in the same jobs took in nearly US$6,000 less, at US$173,052. The pay differences between middle managers and technical workers are similarly unequal.

This salary inequity between men and women in IT is a longstanding issue, but it could have short-term consequences for companies that pay female IT workers less, according to Umesh Ramakrishnan, vice chairman of CTPartners, an executive recruiter in New York.

"The pay package is what it is for the best executive," regardless of gender, says Ramakrishnan. "It's a rather shortsighted view if you're paying a female executive less. You're not going to hold onto that person very long."

Ramakrishnan says while he hasn't seen a difference in compensation packages between the male and female IT executives he has helped place, he has seen pay inequities between men and women in lower levels of the IT organization. In many workplaces, the inequity is the result of longstanding differences in pay that have yet to be corrected, he says.

For women who feel that they are underpaid, Ramakrishnan offers this advice: Find out what your peers are earning at similar companies, and present your findings to a supervisor or human resources representative to illustrate your market value.

"It lets the company know you're thinking about it, and it lets them know whether you're well paid or underpaid," he says.

Karen Piper, a business intelligence analyst at Ball Corp., a maker of food and beverage containers, says she believes that the salary gap between men and women has narrowed in recent years. But she doesn't think the IT landscape is necessarily a level playing field.

"Men don't have to work as hard as women to get promoted," says Piper, a 20-year IT veteran. Female IT workers "have to go above and beyond" to advance, she says.

Others aren't sure there's a correlation between gender and pay. Didi Raizen, an IT applications manager at Flatiron Construction, says she doesn't think she earns less than her male peers at other companies. "Women have demonstrated their value in the IT realm," she says.

Tammy Wicks, a business applications analyst at FedEx Freight, says she, too, is unsure whether there's salary inequity between men and women in IT. But she says she does know this: "My salary still outweighs my husband's."

Read related articles:
9 nontechie skills managers wish you had
Women in IT: Speeding Up the IT Hiring Process
Salary survey: Do you have the skills to earn more?
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