We did a survey to evaluate the relationship between demographics and junior dev salary expectations.
The idea came out of a recent Mpls Jr Devs meetup, where two developers with the same amount of experience (1.5 years) discovered that one was making $20k more than the other. One was a white female, and the other was a white male. We bet you can guess which one was making more.
That conversation piqued our interests.
The results were compelling, even though the data set was small. Scroll to the bottom for the TL;DR.
- “Junior developer” means different things to different people, and that’s OK. However you define it is the right way to interpret these results.
- Median measures the middle number of a data set. We chose to use medians instead of averages (means), because they reduce the impact outliers have on the results.
WHAT WE MEASURED
- Minimum Salary: If you were a junior developer, what’s the *minimum* base salary you would accept? (USD)
- Ideal Salary: If you were a junior developer, what would be your *ideal* base salary?
- Dream Salary: If you were a junior developer, what would be your *dream* base salary?
- Gender Identity: To which gender do you most identify?
- Race/Ethnicity: How would you describe your race/ethnicity?
- Location: Where do you live?
- Developer: Are you a developer or aspiring developer?
- Developer Experience: If you are a developer, how many years of experience do you have?
- Age: What is your age?
Feel free to take the survey if you haven’t already.
OVERVIEW OF RESPONSES
- Total responses: 67
- Gender: 60% male identified, 40% female identified
- Race/Ethnicity: 81% white, 7% Black, 7% Asian, 5% Hispanic/Latinx
- Location: 72% Minnesota, 28% non-Minnesota
- Developer: 94% developer, 6% non-developer
- Developer experience: 51% 0–2 years, 19% 3–9 years, 30% 10+ years
- Age: 10% 18–24 years old, 60% 25–34 years old, 27% 35–44 years old, 3% 45 or older
Note: Because there were so few non-developer responses, we ignored the developer demographic in this analysis.
TAKEAWAYS: On average, women would accept minimum starting salaries $3,500 lower than men. Women’s dream salary expectations are $8,500 lower than men’s.
Note: Because there were only 5 or fewer responses for each of Asian, Black, and Hispanic or Latinx, we grouped them together into people of color (POC) for the rest of this analysis.
TAKEAWAYS: We want to avoid extrapolating on a data set of only 3–5 responses, so we aren’t drawing any conclusions here.
TAKEAWAYS: People of color’s expected junior dev salary ranges are much narrower than white people’s ($15k vs $28k).
RACE/ETHNICITY & GENDER
- Women of color’s junior dev salary expectations have the narrowest range of any group ($15k vs $24k. $27.5k and $31.5k)
- Women of color’s average junior dev dream salaries are $15k lower than white men’s. Their dream salaries are only $2.5k higher than white men’s ideal salaries.
- Men of color’s junior dev salary expectations are $1.5k-$5k lower across the board compared to white women’s.
Breakdown of responses
Note: 48 responses were from Minnesota, and the remaining 19 were spread across 10 locations, so we grouped all non-Minnesotan responses together.
TAKEAWAYS: Minnesotans have lower junior dev salary expectations than non-Minnesotans. There are likely many factors at play here — cost of living, tech bubbles, supply & demand of developer jobs, etc… — but this wasn’t a big surprise.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has some really interesting data on average software developer salaries by State & Metro.
Breakdown of responses
Note: This is where the small data set starts skewing the results; 5 of 13 responses from developers with 3-9 years of experience were from outside of Minnesota.
TAKEAWAYS: Developers with 3-9 years experience have the highest junior dev salary expectations. Developers with 10+ years experience have slightly lower junior dev salary expectations than those with 0-2 years of experience.
The next chart shows why the data is skewed.
DEVELOPER EXPERIENCE & LOCATION
TAKEAWAYS: Developers with 3-9 years of experience who live outside of Minnesota have much higher ideal and dream junior dev salary expectations than everyone else.
With more data, it’s possible that salary expectations would normalize across developer experience and this demographic wouldn’t prove meaningful.
Breakdown of responses
Notes: There were only 2 responses from 45+ year olds, and 11 out of 40 of the 25–34 year old responses were from outside Minnesota.
TAKEAWAYS: 18–24 year olds have lower junior dev salary expectations than everyone else. Their ideal and dream junior dev salary expectations were less than or equal to all other groups’ ideal salaries. With that, their salary ranges were also narrower than any other group’s.
Breakdown of responses
COMMENTARY & TAKEAWAYS
- Minimum ideal salary is the most meaningful number here because companies usually anchor subsequent pay raises to your current salary. It’s so bad in California that they just passed a law banning companies from asking applicants about previous salaries.
- Always negotiate. If you don’t negotiate, you’re likely leaving money on the table and are limiting your future earnings.
- Your biggest opportunity to negotiate for a higher salary is before you start a new job. Companies are incentivized to keep their costs low, and aren’t likely to give big raises to reflect current market rates after you start working there. Big pay bumps come from job hopping, which sucks.
- Ask for more money than you think you should. People of color, women and young people appear to have lower expectations than white men. One tactic we like is to look in the mirror and keep saying higher numbers until you start laughing. Ask for that much. If a company wants you, you’re not likely to get an outright no.
- Diversity-minded companies are increasingly giving preference to people from under-represented groups when hiring. This means that as a person of color or a woman, you have more leverage than you think.
- Hiring managers and HR departments need to make sure their employees are being fairly compensated. It’s easy enough to put the onus on individuals, but companies know when they aren’t compensating fairly and they need to be responsible for making sure their employees are getting paid fairly. (h/t Jacqueline Quintanilla for calling this out)
- Small dataset — only 67 responses
- People of color, women, and young people need to ask for more money.
- Women would generally accept $3.5k lower junior dev starting salaries than men.
- People of color’s expected junior dev salary range is much narrower than white people’s ($15k vs $28k)
- Minnesotans have lower junior dev salary expectations than non-Minnesotans