Is the Gender Gap Turning Around?

Gender diversity in the tech sector has been all over the news recently, but a new study is threatening to turn some of the controversy on its head.


Glassdoor is a social website popular in the technology industry that lets employees comment anonymously on their employers and also report on their own salaries and other data. Late last year, Glassdoor analyzed its data to find out how compensation and employee satisfaction compare between men and women at a sample of 25 of the largest tech companies.

What it found is surprising: despite stiff criticism of the tech industry for an alleged male-centric culture, female software engineers are actually outearning male software engineers at several prominent tech companies.

For example, according to the data, the median annual base pay for female “Software Development Engineer I” at Amazon was $96,425; men earned slightly less, $95,000 for the same title. At Cisco, female software engineers consistently earn more than the men in most engineering positions. And Google’s female software engineers with fewer than four years of experience make a median $117,740, compared to the $113,548 that men make there with about five more months of experience. Women in certain software engineering jobs at Intel, Microsoft, and Yahoo are also making more than their male counterparts, according to the study.

The data showed a trend for the newer software-oriented tech companies like Google or Yahoo to have more job categories where women earned more, than the older companies like Oracle or Microsoft, where men tended to do better. For example, at Yahoo a software engineer with four years experience earned $105,000 if she was a woman compared to $103,600 if a man. However, at the more senior levels, men tended to win out. For example a senior software engineer with seven to ten years experience at Google earned $134,896 if a woman but a whopping $160,000 if male.

What is the explanation of the good news for women engineers in the data? We could find no executives from these companies quoted in the media addressing this data. It may be that good female engineers are so hard to find that when companies do find them, they pay them more than men. Or it could be that Glassdoor’s data is just wrong, i.e. unrepresentative of the entire employee pool at each of those companies.

This is not to say there is no gender issue. It’s clear that women are under-represented in technology, and that is disappointing as technology is by common consensus a high-paying, growth industry. For example, according to Slate Magazine, only 30 percent of Google’s employees are female, and that number drops to 17 percent if you count only the tech jobs at the company. Only 12.3 percent of engineers in the tech industry as a whole, the report says, are female.

While we value the data provided by Glassdoor, clearly more research is needed in this area, and we look forward to data from other sources.