Women in IT gaining ground on male colleagues

For the first time in its short history, which dates back to 2000, IT job board Dice Inc. reports that women’s salaries in IT have moved closer to those of their male peers.

According to the Dice 2003 Annual Salary Survey, women’s salaries increased five per cent to US$62,800. Men’s salaries increased two per cent to US$69,700, which narrowed the gender gap to 11 per cent.

Scot Melland, CEO of Dice.com, says more women are working more hours in IT, and that is driving their salaries up. According to the survey, women who reported working more than 55 hours per week earned 7.5 per cent less than men. Industry also plays a role in the gender gap. Women IT pros at Internet services companies had salaries only three per cent less than their male counterparts. Meanwhile in the medical and pharmaceutical fields, women made 19 per cent less than men did.

“Definitely what’s interesting about the gender gap this year is that it actually improved,” Melland says. “The pay gap is much, much smaller than it is in other job sectors.”

The survey of 21,000 IT professionals (both men and women) found that government and defense salaries made the largest gains, growing four per cent (US$2,600) to US$64,600. Computer hardware salaries also increased four per cent to US$57,900. Although overall salaries gained a modest two per cent, Melland says the fact that salaries are going up again is a good economic sign.

“That’s telling us we’ve definitely turned the corner,” Melland says. “We’re better off than we were six to 12 months ago. Two per cent is better than a decline.”

Melland says that Dice.com clients expect to hire more in 2004, and postings on the site would confirm that as they are up 40 per cent over last year. Entry level salaries, another positive indicator, rose three per cent. Older workers (over 50 years old), on the other hand, saw their salaries decline four per cent. Melland says many of the older workers are contractors or consultants and the demand for these workers hasn’t been as strong as in the past.

Top positions, according to the survey, include network and MIS manager positions, which gained seven per cent and five per cent, respectively, in 2003. The highest paying titles remained unchanged over 2002: IT management (US$104,000), project management (US$83,200), systems developer (US$83,200) and software engineer (US$81,400). Top skills include SAP and PeopleSoft. Full-time workers with these skills reported earning US$75,200 and US$72,400, respectively.

Melland says the best positions are available right now in the aerospace and defense industries, which are looking for application programmers and network engineers with security clearance.

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