Exploring the Silicon Valley Gender Gap

Who thinks about hailing a cab anymore? Uber or Lyft have infiltrated that market. And thanks to Snapchat, even saving photos has become banal. Behind each of these revolutionary ideas, and thousands more, is a team of hardworking men and women focused on changing the world one line of code at a time.

As much as the world is changing through the launch of numerous apps and digital services, well-balanced talent acquisition continues to move at the speed of a dial-up internet connection. In fact, only 5 percent of leadership positions in technology companies are held by women.

But why? We looked at 62 early-stage companies (those able to begin operations but not currently at the stage of commercial sales or manufacturing) and 1,143 jobs with a C-level or Founder title. This allowed us to debug the reality of skill and wage gaps between men and women in Silicon Valley.

Mind the Gap

Trying to identify a gap is like finding an obscure bug in a line of code. Of more than 1,000 jobs we looked at within the tech industry, women only occupy 50 positions where they make up half or more of the total employed. These jobs came with an average salary of $104,159. This startling statistic doesn’t mean that this is the average for all jobs. Executive Assistants, which were staffed by women in 95 percent of the jobs we examined, earn an average of $131,000 a year. Women also occupy 63 percent of VP of Human Resources roles, which pay an average salary of $104,000. Women who want to earn more than $200,000 annually are seemingly entering jobs typically staffed by fewer than 50 percent women.

There were some higher paying jobs, however, close to 50 percent: Executive Project Managers (women make up 45 percent of the job force) earn an average of $243,000, while a Chief of Staff (women make up 46 percent of the job force) earns $278,000 on average. But these are outliers — out of the 1,093 positions staffed with less than 50 percent women, the average salary is $119,000. This is the importance of understanding your value within the marketplace.

Error! Does Not Compute

When looking at 62 companies broken down by their Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code, women make up an average of 26 percent of the workforce across multiple industries in technical job roles. Jobs within the Streaming and Automated Music industry, with an average salary of $193,000, have only 37 percent of positions staffed by women. Though unbalanced, this is still 11 percent above the average.

Jobs in the Computer Programing Services industry (average salary of $205,000) and Ride-Sharing Services (average salary of $268,000) have only 23 percent of their positions staffed by women.

A Male-Dominated Industry

Of these same 62 companies, 45 averaged male salaries that exceeded female salaries by an average of 4.9 percent. The largest difference comes from Information and Technology Services, where there is a 13 percent difference in the salaries between male and female workers. Perhaps this is why President Barack Obama’s Office of Science and Technology Policy is working to increase formal and informal training to address the skill gap, and to help women pursue opportunities within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers.
 Jobs within Business Consulting Services (men earn 0.1 percent more, on average), Personal Credit Institutions (men earn 0.2 percent more, on average), and Electronic Computers (men earn 0.4 percent more, on average) are where the wage and skill gaps are almost negligible between men and women.

Girl Powered

The U.S. Department of Commerce notes that women working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields earn 33 percent more than women working in non-STEM fields. Within this subset, women earn 3.2 percent more than their male counterparts. Whereas the high end of pay disparity results in a 13 percent difference in what men and women make in Information and Technology Services, the highest difference in favor of women is almost 9 percent in the Publishing and Printing industry.

While this is not representative of the industry as a whole, there are few fields where women make more than men — but even then, none has a double-digit difference. This is why organizations like Girls Who Code are looking to address the training gap at early ages, so female workers have the necessary skills to compete for these high-paying roles.

Salary Bits, Skill Bytes

When looking at 17 cities in the San Francisco Bay area, we found that average male salaries consistently exceeded average female salaries. Berkeley and Palo Alto stand out the most. Berkeley, where there is an 8.6 percent gap between male and female salaries, has the lowest percentage of women employed (24 percent). In Palo Alto, where 26 percent of the workforce is female, there is a 4.2 percent difference in wages. The smallest difference in wages is found in San Ramon, where men typically earn 1.3 percent more than women. The city of San Ramon holds one of the highest proportions of women in the workforce (29 percent), fourth only to San Jose, Fremont, and Pleasanton.

While there is still a lot of work to be done to address skill and wage gaps, there are companies proactively looking for ways to help. Apple, for example, reportedly reached wage equality as of August 2016, and Netflix is also actively looking to attract women by offering unlimited parental leave.


There are reasons why both federally funded and privately driven initiatives to help women compete for jobs within the technology industry exist — there’s an obvious gap where access to career advancement and higher salaries fall by the wayside.

If we don’t look to provide increased opportunities, we’re allowing this gap in skill and salary to continue with silent acceptance. In the age of digital assistance, shouldn’t we be providing everyone — regardless of gender — a voice within these industries?

Paysa helps to level the playing field for any job hunter with its detailed analysis on compensation for major companies like Google and Amazon and tips for how to negotiate your next job offer.


Average salary and the ratio of men to women that comprise the workforce (e.g., gender composition) was detailed for 62 companies and 1,143 job titles, according to Paysa.com. Job titles consist of “Founder” and “C-Level” titles for early-stage companies only. Companies were categorized into industries according to their Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code via SICCODE.com.

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Originally published at www.paysa.com on August 29, 2016.