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We know there’s a gender pay gap in technology — the question is what can we do about it?

Research carried out by the UK’s Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has revealed that female professionals across the board are still being paid a lot less than their male counterparts. However, what’s even worse is the fact that this no longer comes as much of a surprise.

The IFS’s findings have highlighted the fact that women earn less than men both before and after childbirth, with the gap becoming even more significant after giving birth.

What this means is that women are effectively being penalised for having children.

The main reason for this appears to be because mothers who take time out to look after their children fall behind their male colleagues in terms of career progression, in turn damaging their hopes of increasing their salary.

Men more likely to be promoted than women

As reported in the Financial Times, the perceptions around men and women mean that men in senior roles are “more likely to promoted than women” in similar roles.

Mothers who take time out to look after their children fall behind their male colleagues in terms of career progression

There are of course those who argue that the reason why women are paid less after giving birth is because they often return to work in part-time roles, in order to fit their professional lives around childcare, therefore making it difficult to carry out direct comparisons with men in full-time roles.

However, what’s striking is the fact that, as the FT reported, even “before they have their first child, women earn on average 10 per cent less” than their male colleagues, meaning the disparity doesn’t just impact mothers. It impacts all women.

Do companies see female employees as risky?

Is this because employers see men as less of a risk, because they (traditionally) take less parental leave than women? Or is it simply now a legacy of the fact that many industries have always been more favourable towards men, meaning unconscious bias has become ingrained within them?

Either way, it’s an undeniable fact that pay divisions do exist between the sexes.

In certain industries this is compounded by the fact there’s a clear disparity between how many men are employed, compared to the number of women.

Perhaps the most well-known example of this is the technology sector, in which only about a fifth of the workforce is female. This is why it comes as little surprise when such studies are released, because it’s seems clear that gender bias — whether conscious or unconscious — is deeply-rooted in certain areas of society.

How do we close the pay gap? By closing the gender gap

While the pay gap is clearly a problem that must be addressed, it’s hard to see how that can be addressed before gender equality in technology itself becomes a reality, partly because an industry that’s largely dominated by one gender is unlikely to fully understand the problems faced by the minority.

As Melissa Loble put it in her piece for Entrepreneur, “in tech, where the most optimistic estimates put women at one-third of the workforce, our biggest challenge in achieving parity is overcoming distortions in perception”.

Either way, it’s an undeniable fact that pay divisions do exist between the sexes

That’s why we started Next Tech Girls, with the aim of creating both a way to showcase the amazing women who are already working in technology and also use these role models to inspire today’s girls to become tomorrow’s women in tech.

Many girls have what it takes to build a successful career in the world of technology, but are put off from learning about or pursuing careers in the sector because of preconceptions about what it’s like.

By challenging these views and helping companies to connect with girls through meaningful, technology-focused work experience at a young age, we can start to create an industry that’s more open to change and becomes ever more diverse.

By Nicholas Pearce

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