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Women's salaries in Tech: inequality and lack of transparency under fire

On 8 March, International Women's Rights Day, 50inTech, in collaboration with our partner Figures, published a guide on the gender pay gap in tech. This study aimed to measure the perception of the market value of women in Tech, to understand their expectations, their needs and their motives for discontent. This is also an opportunity to remind ourselves that the situation is still problematic, and to hear it from the main stakeholders.

The Tech sector in France: a poor performer in terms of gender equality

Looking at the European figures, one might think that France is ahead of its colleagues. Indeed, it has an unadjusted gender pay gap of 'only' 15%, whereas the UK and Germany show respectively 26% and 22%. However, in tech start-ups, the situation is worse: only 39% of women are employed in France, compared to 43% in Germany and 44% in the Netherlands. Even when looking at the salaries of men and women working in the same position, a gap still exists (1.6%). 

Women themselves say so. When asked about the pay gap with their male counterparts, 77% of them say they feel underpaid. When they are entrepreneurs, they pay themselves less: on average 25% below men.


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Women leaders: myth or reality?

In addition to this, women are largely a minority in management and executive positions. Only 17% of C-level functions are held by women. Only 11% of development teams are women, compared to 82% in support functions. This reality is not unique to France: in the United Kingdom, for example, the ratio is 1 woman manager for every 6 men!

Poor transparency on pay leads to barriers

The guide reveals an important underlying problem, which partly explains the numbers reported: 51% of French women have a poor understanding of their market value. Without reference data, a conventional or internal company salary scale and a clear HR policy on the subject, one cannot position oneself and argue about one's skills. What arguments should be used to convince? 

This issue can become a source of anxiety at work: 36% of women describe themselves as "very stressed" when it comes to negotiating their salary. Not necessarily due to a lack of self-confidence, as the problem can also come from a fear of overestimating oneself. For this reason, 7% of them will not apply for a job offer if it does not state explicitly the salary being offered. For 83% of them, this statement should be made systematic. 

"Salary transparency is very important to me. It helps to know better the levers of negotiation," one of the participants in the survey confided.

Providing information and clarity to retain female talent

Whether in a salary negotiation situation, a change of career, or simply during a one-off personal review, a woman's need at work is often to be taken seriously. More prone than men to impostor syndrome, women want to feel legitimate and be able to position themselves in their organization. Unfortunately, the data is missing. And there is no tool for them to assess themselves according to their profile, seniority, role and the impact of their missions in the company. They do not have the required information to become aware of their value, to gain confidence in their relevance. As a result, they feel devalued... and this feeling has a strong impact on their development, their promotions and their pay rises.

Empowering women means giving them access to a salary calculation tool and introducing salary transparency as a mandatory requirement at all stages of recruitment and career development: from the job offer to their prospects within the company. Otherwise, women will turn to other sectors, which are more inclined to reduce pay inequalities with their male colleagues or are simply more transparent on this issue. For Virgile Raingeard, co-founder and CEO of Figures, "there is still a lot of work to be done before the European technology industry becomes more equal. [...] Companies will first have to look at their policies and see how they can improve the situation."

Hélène Lucien, Chief Product Officer of 50inTech and head of the study, adds: "Companies must commit to providing support and training for women to grow in the workplace. Systemic action is needed to support women, from reliable tools to display median salaries in tech to better access to skilled networks of mentors - this will help them thrive at work and ultimately make companies more successful."


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How to end the gender pay gap in Tech?

  1. Put in place constant monitoring of the gender pay gap
  2. Take actions for salary transparency: establish clear pay policies and salary grids, communicate them to employees
  3. Consider the needs of female talent in recruitment processes and methods
  4. Provide more flexibility options

Note: setting up a salary grid means defining objective standards for assessing the value of an employee. He or she can refer to it to argue without prejudice or negotiation skills coming into play. 

Preligens, partners in our study, succeeded in achieving an adjusted gender pay gap of 0%. Salary equality is permanent because it is based on the idea that a salary increase must be justified by performance, which is based on measurable parameters. In addition, the company pays particular attention to maintaining this zero gap by regularly measuring it and adjusting salaries if necessary.


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