On the occasion of the launch of their salary negotiation bootcamp on November 25th & 26th, we caught up with Caroline Ramade, Founder & CEO of 50inTech to find out why women working in tech are still earning less than their male colleagues and what can be done to start flipping the script.
What factors do you think contribute the most to the gender pay gap in the tech industry as a whole?
- Gender bias and discrimination
I think the main explanations for the pay gap are gender bias and discrimination. These are deeply embedded in our work culture and education systems. In the male-dominated tech industry, this bias is something that many women have to cope with on a daily basis.
For instance, 39% of women say gender bias is a primary reason for not being offered a promotion. We should be even more concerned by the fact that a whopping 46% of women say that they have experienced discrimination and harassment in the European tech sector. And 72% of women in tech say they have worked at a company this year where bro culture is pervasive and feel they have to work harder than their male coworkers to prove their value.
Intimidation is even more strongly felt by women with further overlapping identities (e.g. sexual orientation, ethnicity, parental status). Compared to white women, women of color are four times more likely to experience microaggressions, such as having their authority questioned, or experiencing offhand remarks about their language skills or other abilities.
Now more than ever, we owe it to all women to create safe spaces and “detoxify” corporate/tech culture once and for all.
- Segregation and stereotypes
Of the 9 million tech workers in the EU in 2020, roughly one third were women. But when we zoom in, gender divisions become apparent.
While 41% of them work product and Design departments, just 12% of women work in Software Engineering. Now compare that to women occupying 84% in HR, and it becomes clear that traditional conceptions about gender roles are still dominant in today’s tech companies.
So while we definitely need to onboard more women in general, hiring them for technical roles is even more essential.
- Work-life balance
The pandemic has accelerated the trend towards flexible work. This is good news for women, who are three times as likely as men to work part-time. Women also work fewer hours than men, as they bear the brunt of parental and caregiving responsibilities.
The “mommy penalty” is still very real. Across Europe, 65.8% of women with children are in the labor force, versus 89.1% of men, and working part-time often means getting paid less and, depending on the country, possibly fewer benefits.
- The glass ceiling and obstacles to career progression
Fewer women are represented in high-earning executive positions, which has a negative impact on their career progression and decreases the promotion of other women. This is especially true for tech, where there are fewer senior women advocates. The gender pay gap in the EU is also highest in managerial positions, with women earning 23% less per hour than their male counterparts.
Women themselves say that one of the biggest barriers for getting promoted in tech is the lack of a clear career path. They indicate the need for more mentors, role models and networking opportunities to help boost their careers. Given that many companies don’t have the right support structures in place, many women are forced to fall back on “do-it-yourself” solutions. This adds significant strain and stress to what is already an uphill battle.
The pay gap doesn’t start in the workplace: it is created in our education systems. Despite being more highly educated than men, women’s education is rewarded less than men’s. Furthermore, fewer women graduate in STEM fields, causing the gender gap to persist in workplace pay.Women in the EU hold just 19.8% of IT degrees, compared to 55% of Mathematics and Statistics degrees. On the brighter side, over 40% of scientists and engineers in the EU are women. This gives me hope that we’re on the right path.
As someone personally responsible for recruitment at a tech company, how do you ensure gender equality in hiring practices?
At 50inTech, we match female talents with only the most inclusive companies in the industry. This means that we evaluate companies based on four key criteria: equal pay, fair career paths, flexible working and anti-discrimination policies.
If a company does not abide by those practices, they can’t join 50inTech. We’re proud to have Slack, Doctolib, BackMarket, Dataiku, Prestashop, Blablacar and Orange within our network.
What are some strategies for women to consider when they are trying to break barriers in male-dominated professions?
- Find a community
It is crucial for women to share and discuss their experiences with each other. This goes beyond mere networking, though that is also an important factor. It is about fostering a sense of support, of community, of collective belonging.
It is also about gleaning insights from experts: whether in the area of negotiation skills, technical advice or simply enjoying the benefits of sustained mentorship. This is why 50inTech offers a community based on peer-to-peer support. Using our app, candidates can build lasting relationships and communicate with peers and team leaders from potential employers.
- Embrace continuous learning
Our learning platform teaches women in tech essential negotiation skills through a series of free online bootcamps and masterclasses. The key to a good negotiation is preparation and practice. No matter whether they work in sales, product, tech or marketing, a good negotiation can be divided into three parts: preparation, practice, execution. To learn more about the three stages of a successful negotiation, make sure to sign up for the second edition of the “What I Really, Really Want Bootcamp,” where we will review the state of salary inequality, the importance of intersectionality, and share actionable tips on how to master the financial side of the negotiation.
What policies or legislation would you like to see passed in order to help further close the gender pay gap in tech companies?
I think the Gender Equality Index is a great starting point. Right now, it’s only European, but we need to make it worldwide.
Companies also need to implement a salary grid with data-driven benchmarks for decisions about promotion and remunerations. Companies like Meilisearch, Strapi, Malt, Preligens, Swile, Believe have already reaped massive rewards from putting in place salary grids. Equally important are family-friendly, inclusive policies that make it easier for parents, guardians and caregivers to juggle their work life with their responsibilities at home. Criteo is a shining example of a company that has really nailed this.
What do you want to say to women in tech?
Women: you are the future of tech. Companies are scrambling to hire female talent; they know that, without you, they are destined to become dinosaurs. All you need to do is put yourself out there.
And for women who already work in tech, I’d like to say: you are not alone. Burnout, imposter syndrome, bro culture—there are many obstacles in our way, but you have the power to succeed. With the right mindset, tools and support from networks, there is nothing that can hold you back.