By Pádraig Hoare
Irish women in the IT sector are the second-best paid in the world but still lag almost a fifth behind their male counterparts when it comes to pay.
That was one of the findings from a global survey on technology job platform Honeypot, which collected data on gender pay gaps in 41 countries in the EU and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The survey found the US offers the highest wages to women working in tech at £61,492 (€70,529) per annum, followed by Ireland at £42,996 and Switzerland at £41,911.
However in Ireland, women earn 17% less than the overall average of £51,991 for tech workers, the survey found. Just under 19% of workers in IT in Ireland are women, it said.
At 30%, Bulgaria has the highest percentage of women working in tech, followed by Australia with 28% and Romania at 26%.
Portugal, the US and Latvia offer the best opportunities for women in tech, with an industry gender pay gap around 6% to 7% less than the overall average wage gap in all industries in each country, the survey found.
The overall gender pay gap in Ireland has actually increased by 1% since 2010, according to the data collected.
Chair at Cork tech organisation IT@Cork, Caroline O’Driscoll said the findings were further proof that more must be done to encourage young women into the science, technology, engineering and maths subjects, as well as addressing the slow progress of women in leadership roles.
Ms O’Driscoll co-founded the Iwish organisation to encourage teenage girls to pursue a career in those subjects.
She said the level of pay in Irish IT jobs was somewhat encouraging but that the gender disparity was symptomatic of a wider problem, namely women not being promoted.
“What is points to is not necessarily women being paid less in the general workforce, but more that there are larger numbers of men that are in senior roles.
“Just 17% of boardrooms are women, and that is still a very poor number. A World Economic Forum report on gender parity found if the current pace of change continues, it will be 217 years before it is addressed. We cannot afford to have young women become discouraged from pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects because of statistics like these. This is why we need the likes of Iwish and other organisations encouraging young women into science, technology, engineering and maths subjects.
“The likes of Facebook didn’t exist 15 years ago, yet now we are asking virtual assistants like Alexa to tell us the time. Technology is moving at an extraordinary pace. These are the jobs of tomorrow,” she said.
Ms O’Driscoll said Cork and Ireland as a whole stood to benefit most as technology grew.
“Cork stands to benefit hugely because we already have a fantastic pipeline with the IT industry co-operating with universities and government. Women cannot miss out,” she said.
The Honeypot survey found the US has the highest number of women in the labour force overall. Lithuania has the highest percentage of female workforce at 51%, one of only two alongside Latvia at 50% countries in the index that have a higher percentage of women than men working.
Turkey has the smallest percentage of female workforce at around 32%, yet has the highest percentage of female graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects at 37%. It has the lowest gender pay gap for tech jobs in the index, and the fifth lowest overall gender wage gap.
Honeypot cofounder Emma Tracey said: “This would suggest that although there are cultural barriers working against women in Turkey, those that do work are paid more fairly for their contributions than many countries which consider themselves to be more equal such as Germany and the UK.”
Ms Tracey said one of the most surprising findings was that Israel, the so-called Start-Up Nation with its Silicon Wadi, has only 26,000 women working in tech, accounting for only 11% of its IT industry.
“With a technology gender wage gap of over 27%, it could be surmised that Israeli women are discouraged from joining the tech workforce when there is better pay to be found elsewhere,” she said.