It’s 2015: why are female IT specialists still earning 16% less than men?

According to the latest report from BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, which scored the industry on its gender balance, just one in ten IT directors are female.

The Scorecard also reveals that, out of the 1.18 million IT specialists working in the UK in 2014, only 17% were females – compared with a much more balanced 47% for the workforce as a whole. 

Despite significant growth in the number of women working in IT roles (up 19% between 2004 and 2014), female representation in the IT professions has changed little in the past ten years.

> See also: Women in technology must speak out, you can't be what you can't see

'This is just not sustainable if the UK is going to remain competitive in this field and fill its looming skills gap,' said Gillian Arnold, Chair of BCSWomen. 'Employers are missing out on 50% of the talent available and we need to take action to address this as a profession and as a nation.'

Female representation within IT occupations ranges from one third (33%) of employees working as web design and development professionals to less than one in ten (10%) working as IT directors.

Amongst those employed as programmers and software developers (the largest group of IT specialists) only around one in ten (13%) are women.

And not only are there less of them, they're earning less – the research found that with gross weekly earnings of £650 per week, female IT specialists were found to be earning only 84% of the rate for males working in such positions during 2014 (£770 per week). The difference in female and male pay rates appears to be greatest amongst ‘professional’ level IT positions. 

This 16% less average is just below the national figure, where women earn on average 19.1% less than me – equivalent to 80p for every pound pocketed by a man.

> See also: Can we do more to encourage women in engineering?

Employers are profoundly concerned by the tech sector’s continued difficulties in appealing to women, and they are working hard to implement programmes that attract, recruit and retain female talent, added Karen Price OBE, CEO, The Tech Partnership – but they know that the problem has much deeper roots.

'Girls’ disaffection with technology starts at school,' said Price. 'Last year just 8% of Computing A Levels went to female candidates. Real progress will require concerted action by government, industry and education: the Tech Partnership’s own TechFuture programmes are making a real difference to young women’s attitudes to technology, and showing how much can be achieved when everyone works to a common goal.'

Gillian adds: 'One issue still largely unaffected by recent changes is the gender pay gap. Industry leaders need to think seriously about the impact of the gender pay gap on the retention of women in tech. Women have such potential to contribute to our profession, and we need to prove to all that we are forward thinking and fair to all of our workers. The industry will have the chance to get the breadth of input from all sections of society that will keep it vibrant and forward-looking.'

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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