Glass Ceiling for Women in IT Persists

A government report released last week says women continue to be relatively underpaid and underrepresented in the information technology workforce.

According to the report,released by the president's Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), women comprise 47% of the general workforce, but only 29% of IT jobs are held by women. And there is a pay disparity that is particularly acute at the high end of the scale.

Using nationwide figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the CEA compared the jobs and salaries of women with those of men in IT, then adjusted the data to account for factors such as race, age, hours worked and education.

The report concluded that there is a pay gap in hourly compensation of 22% in favor of men, or 17% when adjusted for the other factors. Moreover, "women are most underrepresented in the IT occupations where pay is the highest," the report says. In electrical engineering, for example, only 10% of the workforce is female.

That creates an "occupational disparity [that] contributes to a lack of women in the highest paid jobs. While 18% of men employed in IT earn $70,000 or more, only 8% of women earn this much,"according to the report.

There is also a gender disparity among executives at start-ups. Reports from private groups that have studied women in IT said this may partly be due to the fact that start-ups rely on the male-dominated venture capitalist field for board members.

Still, there's some good news. IT jobs, in general, pay women well above the median income for women in non-IT jobs. Women in full-time IT positions earn a median income of more than $38,000. That's 60% higher than the median income for women working outside IT, which is $23,900, according to the report.

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