There appears to be a new, novel way to cut IT personnel costs: Get rid of the men and keep the women, because you know you can get away with paying them less.
According to Computerworld's "Salary Survey 2010," the perennial gender wage gap has remained firmly in place in the past year. For example, female application development managers made 7 percent less than their male counterparts, and female CIOs made a staggering 16 percent less.
It seems hardly coincidental that a study by recruiting firm Sheila Greco Associates, cited in the Computerworld report, found that the percentage of female CIOs and executive vice presidents of technology rose to 16.4 percent in 2009, compared to 12 percent in 2007. When women are clearly equally capable and you can pay them 16 percent less, why wouldn't you pad the upper echelons with as many women as availability will allow?
Employers are incentivized by the fact that women aren't as pesky about remuneration as men are. The Computerworld study found that in 2009, bonuses dropped by 5.6 percent for men, and by 15.5 percent for women. The reason for the huge difference: Women tend to keep quiet:
Women traditionally don't earn higher bonuses because they often don't ask, says Laura Sherbin, director of research at the Center for Work-Life Policy. "When your bonus pool is fixed, and men say 'I want this or I'm going to quit,' and women don't say anything -- men get the bonuses they want and women get what's left over," says Sherbin. "When they don't ask, their manager perceives that they don't care, or that they're in a second-earner situation where the money is not as important to them."
The result of all this is a new dynamic in home and work life for a lot of people. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for men in 2009 was 10 percent, compared to 7.9 percent for women. Increasingly, women are the primary breadwinners in the household. Computerworld cited the case of a female programmer in Wisconsin who was forced to take a 20 percent cut in pay and two weeks of unpaid vacation. She really had no choice-her IT manager husband has been unemployed for 14 months.
None of this will change until employers are brought to account for the gender wage disparity. That's why the Paycheck Fairness Act, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last year and currently under review in the U.S. Senate, is so important. According to the House Committee on Education & Labor, the Paycheck Fairness Act would:
Chances are, you've never even heard of this act, because it's been under the radar of most of us. Chances are, your employer would like to keep it that way. We need to start spreading the word so that this act becomes the law of the land, and justice is done.