Women in Tech: Still Struggling, No Magic Remedy

Susan Hall
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10 Negotiation Tips for Women

Tips from "A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating."

Some days, the stars seem to align on a topic. Today, we return to the issue of women in tech-or lack thereof.

 

One of the first stories I saw this morning was a survey from Glassdoor.com, based on a survey of 2,045 U.S. adults conducted by Harris Interactive. It found men more optimistic than women about the recovering job market.

 

While the post at SiliconValley.com leads off with the news that Google and Yahoo pay engineers more than $100,000 a year, further down, there are interesting stats on the disparity in pay among male and female engineers. This information is not specific to Google and Yahoo, and, in fact, says its sample sizes were too small to break out by company.

 


But Glassdoor found a 9.1 percent difference in pay for Silicon Valley engineers with 10 or more years of experience and a 6.7 percent difference at all levels. For those with at least 10 years of experience, men reported average pay of $129,041 and women reported $117,313. For all experience levels, male engineers reported an average salary of $94,761 and women reported $88,429.

 

And that is for women who could get hired at Silicon Valley tech firms. Entrepreneur-turned-academic Vivek Wadhwa writes at TechCrunch that one of his brightest students in the Masters of Engineering Management program at Duke University, a black woman named Viva Leigh Miller, couldn't get a job in Silicon Valley, even though he introduced her to leading venture capitalists.

 

Wadhwa writes:

You can't take one anecdote and extrapolate from that. It could just be that Viva didn't connect with the right companies at the right time.

Just look around Silicon Valley-you don't see many blacks there, or Hispanics either. ... It is noteworthy that blacks and Hispanics constitute only 1.5% and 4.7% respectively of the Valley's tech population-well below national tech-population averages of 7.1% and 5.3%.

That's a complaint we've heard before from minority groups. Wadhwa profiles some women of color who have defied long odds to attain their success, concluding:

It doesn't take much to fix an entrepreneurial imbalance. We just need to recognize the reality, provide a little bit of mentorship-and a lot of encouragement.

I've written about research that found sponsorship key to women's success, that mentoring isn't the same thing-and that mentoring has evolved over the years.

 

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal points to research from management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. that finds lack of career development for women in corporate jobs. It based its conclusions on a 2011 survey of 2,525 college-educated men and women, 1,525 of whom worked for large companies, mainly in management.

 

Joanna Barsh, a McKinsey senior partner who co-wrote the report, urges companies to spend more time coaching women and offering more leadership training and rotation through various management roles if they want to do more than just pay lip service to gender diversity at the top.

 

These are not new issues, but more evidence that little progress has been made. What to do? One thing is to point out bias, wherever it appears, even in an April Fool's Day prank. My colleague Loraine Lawson called Gartner on its April 1 "new magic quadrant." It has since been revised.



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