Pay gap between men and women in tech tripled over five-year period

New report underlines the growing pay disparity among different minority groups.

The pay gap between men and women working in tech nearly tripled between 2016 and 2021, underlining the growing inequality in the sector, according to a new report.

Public policy organization The Dais, based out of Toronto Metropolitan University, released a report Thursday titled “Canada’s Got Tech Talent,” which found that men made $20,000 more on average than women in 2021. The gap has widened since 2016, when men made $7,200 more than their female counterparts. In 2021, men earned $91,000 on average, while women earned $71,400.

“These inequalities contribute to broader societal disparities and must be tackled to foster a more equitable tech sector,” The Dais’s executive director Karim Bardeesy said in a statement.

“The data is disheartening.”

Danielle Graham,
The Firehood co-founder

Interestingly, wages for women who earned in the 60th to 80th percentile (usually senior workers who aren’t at a leadership level) remained flat over the five years, even when controlling for issues such as job switching or having a new child. In the higher percentiles, men saw hourly wage increases of $15 more than women. The report’s authors, Viet Vu and Angus Lockhart, said stagnant wages for higher earning women is “primarily responsible” for the widening pay gap over five years.

“The data is disheartening,” Danielle Graham, co-founder of The Firehood, said in an interview.

“There’s the additional layer of almost house-making work put on women in the workplace. We’re more likely to be asked to take notes or pick up a package during an important meeting. Those subtle conversations where men ask women to do that type of work excludes them and compounds over time.”

The pay gap also widened among racialized and non-racialized workers. Tech workers with visible minority identities made an average of $78,800, compared to workers with no visible minority identities, who made $93,000 on average in 2021. Despite the disparity, Arab workers on average had higher incomes than their white counterparts, earning $98,581. 

Black and Filipino workers were the lowest paid among all groups, earning on average  $70,955 and $73,079, respectively. Indigenous workers fell in between the two groups, having an average income of $72,000.

The report found that while 4.8 percent of other groups participate in tech work, only 1.4 percent of Indigenous people participate, further underlining the barriers to entry they face.

“For Indigenous Peoples living on-reserve, there are unique challenges in entering tech occupations,” Vu and Lockhart wrote. “These communities are often underserved by broadband providers, meaning that access to the internet is a challenge. For the same reason, access to both digital devices and digital literacy education is harder to access in rural communities.”

Immigrants who are still on a work or study visa but are not permanent residents have higher participation rates in the tech sector, at 8.7 percent, compared to immigrants (7.6 percent) and those born here (3.4 percent). Non-permanent-resident immigrants earned on average $52,800, significantly less than the $88,000 earned by immigrants and the $89,800 earned by non-immigrants.

Canada’s targeted immigration system to fill labour gaps contributes to the high participation rate by newcomers, the report stated. Of the 22 different types of occupations eligible for work permits, 15 fall into tech-focused categories.

“Canada faces an uphill battle in attracting immigrant tech workers, with the United States directly on our border offering salaries that are on average 46 percent more than what Canadian tech workers can expect,” Vu and Lockhart wrote.

Melissa Nightingale, founder of management consultancy Raw Signal Group, said that the practice of employers asking immigrants for Canadian work experience is “especially f-cking stupid” in the tech sector. Though Ontario is banning the practice, employers regularly asked about a newcomer’s domestic experience when the report’s data was collected. 

“If I land here as an immigrant and you tell me I need Canadian experience (as I was when I got here), I will prioritize getting a job working locally. But if someone born here with similar experience takes a remote job south of the border, that person ends up doing better financially,” Nightingale said in an email. “That’s bananas.”

Feature image courtesy The Dais.

Bianca Bharti

Bianca Bharti

Bianca Bharti is the newsletter editor at BetaKit, where she spearheads coverage and analysis of tech news in related products. Before BetaKit, Bianca covered the nexus of markets, industries and policy in a variety of formats as a reporter for the Financial Post. There, she won silver in SABEW's 2021 Best in Business Journalism Awards in the personal finance category for one of her pieces. In her free time, she enjoys swapping her reporter hat for a baseball cap to hit up some hiking trails with her dog. She also weirdly loves debating monetary policy.

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