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Is There Still A Gender Gap In Tech?

What kind of impact have recent changes had on the industry?

6Jan

According to the World Economic Forum, it will take until 2133 to close the gender pay gap.

In September 2010, however, ABC World News reported that women were out-earning men. The claim was based on research by Retail Advisors, who claimed that women could be expected to be paid 8% more than men. What the article didn't make so clear was that this only applied to a very select group: those who are under 30, live in urban areas and are yet to get married or have children.

In terms of the wider context, female leaders can still expect to be paid less than their male counterparts. The Guardian reported that female bosses currently earn three-quarters of what men do, meaning that they would have to work until they are 80 to equal their lifetime earnings.

In 2008, women held 25% of tech positions, down from 36% in 1991. According to CNET, this has now increased to 30%, but this still represents a regression. As well as leadership roles, technical positions are also poorly represented. At Twitter, just 10% of its technical positions are filled by women, while at Microsoft and Google it's 16.6% and 17% respectively. This makes it difficult for women to influence product development and also restricts companies to male dominated perspectives in terms of strategy.

While awareness surrounding gender inequality has increased, the comments made by Microsoft's CEO - Satya Nadella - shows that even tech's most influential individuals are capable of ignorance. In an interview with Maria Klawe - the President of Harvey Mudd College and a Director at Microsoft - he said: 'It’s not really about asking for the raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along'. He would later add that not asking for a salary increase was 'good karma' and helped bosses determine which employees they can trust.

Klawe disagreed. She implored women to 'do their homework' regarding salaries, a sentiment which drew applause. Nadella later tweeted that he had been 'inarticulate re how women should ask for raise' and that 'the industry must close [the] gender pay gap so a raise is not needed because of a bias'. That incident, however, seemed to act as a catalyst at Microsoft. The company now provides training, which, according to CNET, 'can prevent men from seeing their female colleagues' contributions.' In 2015, Intel invested $300 million in an effort to promote diversity, and to support more participation in technical positions.

There is evidence to suggest that increased female representation reflects in sales figures. The Anita Borg Institute found that companies on the Fortune 500 who had at least three women on their board saw their return on sales increase by 42%. Despite this, biases, especially in companies that have male-dominated senior management teams, are likely. Getting rid of this will take time, and a few influential technology companies need to step up and act as an example.

With companies like Intel looking to priortize equality, 2016 could see increased female participation.

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