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Women in Tech Are Sabotaging Themselves in Salary Negotiations, Study Suggests

Women consistently undervalue their worth in a “Gender Ask Gap,” study finds.

Zoran Ras/Shutterstock

Female job applicants in the tech industry consistently undervalue their professional worth, according to a new study, suggesting that this discrepancy in self-value helps to explain why women often end up making less than their male counterparts.

Female job applicants for software engineering positions on average set a lower minimum salary level than men, according to Hired.com, a tech recruitment marketplace. Women receive salary offers about nine percent lower than men of similar education and experience. Hired.com, which operates a two-sided job matching service, released a study Thursday that analyzed six months of salary data from job applicants.

The study comes amid an ongoing debate in Silicon Valley about the gender imbalance in many tech companies, and how to attract more women and minorities to established companies and startups.

Earlier this month, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella fanned the flames of the debate after he horrified female employees (and women in general) by suggesting during a speech that women needed to trust “karma” to get a proper raise.

“It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise,” he said. (He hastily apologized.)

Nadella’s offhanded remarks, however, pointed to a broader issue among tech companies, which have struggled to diversify workforces made up mostly of white and Asian men. Only about a third of Facebook and Google’s workforces are women, according to the companies’ diversity reports. The percentages only get smaller when you consider the technical staff and senior management positions.

Hired.com CEO Matt Mickiewicz said his company produced the report to help encourage tech employers to be more self-aware of the salaries they’re offering comparable male and female job applicants.

Hired.com’s internal data shows women ask for lower minimum salaries on average than men.
Hired.com’s internal data shows women ask for lower minimum salaries on average than men.

The employment matching service requires job applicants in IT fields to set a minimum salary on an application shown to potential employers. Those companies can then compete with each other for the attention of applicants, mostly through interview requests or higher salary offers.

Female tech job applicants asked for a minimum salary of $107,000, about $17,000 less than the average minimum salary requested from similar male applicants. The company found that entry-level female candidates were much closer (just $3,000 less) to their male counterparts in their minimum salary requirements. But the discrepancy grew larger among more experienced candidates.

Several studies in recent years have suggested that while women in technology fields experience a pay gap, it’s generally narrower than the gaps in other industries.

A salary study released last year by technology and engineering career site Dice, suggested there really isn’t much of a pay gap and most differences can be explained by the type of jobs held by the employees.

While men earned more in the Dice survey — an average of $95,929 to $87,527 — they were also in higher-paying technical positions such as software engineers and system administrators. Women were more likely to hold jobs as project managers and business analysts.

Earlier this year, a Harvard University economist found that women in some tech jobs generally have more flexibility in where and when they work, which allows them to stay in the job market even after starting families. That, in turn, allows them to better keep up with their male counterparts when it comes to salary levels.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.