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Female IT workers face pay gap of one-fifth

An equal-pay survey has found salary discrepancies are still an issue for female techies, although there are signs the situation may be improving

The majority of female IT workers still believe their wages don't match up to those of male colleagues — despite almost four decades of the UK Equal Pay Act.

More than half (53 percent) of respondents to the third annual Perceptions of Equal Pay survey, conducted by IT trade association Intellect, either believe their salary is not comparable to male colleagues who perform a similar role, or else do not know whether it is. Meanwhile, half also feel equal pay is the sole area in which company policy is only followed in theory.

Being kept in the dark about pay is an ongoing problem for women in IT, with 57 percent of respondents saying they believe their company does not have a transparent pay structure — a figure that has remained the same since the survey began in 2006.

Meanwhile, the gender pay gap in IT remains worse than the national average. Female techies face a pay gap of more than a fifth (around 21 percent), according to Intellect, compared to a national average of 17 percent.

30 October is equal pay campaign group the Fawcett Society's 'No Pay Day' — or the date from which women work 'for free' until the end of the year, given the male/female pay gap. But the group calculates this using the national gender pay gap and the average salary so female IT workers are likely to have been working for 'free' already.

That said, there are signs things are getting better. According to the survey, women in IT feel the pay gap is narrowing: the number of respondents who think their pay matches up to men has risen from 37 percent in 2006 to 47 percent this year.

Gillian Arnold, chair of Intellect's Women in IT group, said in a statement: "Whilst many women still believe that they are paid less than their male colleagues, they are aware that their companies are starting to do something about it."

The survey also found a bigger majority of the women than in previous years believe there is no glass ceiling when it comes to promotions, with 80 percent saying they think their organisation encourages women and men equally to apply for promotion, and 77 percent feeling they would be treated the same if they asked to be promoted.

The majority of respondents also feel diversity and flexible working are supported by their organisation (55 percent and 59 percent respectively).

Organisations looking to attract tech-savvy women should consider conducting an equal-pay audit: a large majority (69 percent) of survey respondents said this would encourage them to work for a particular company. An even bigger majority (77 percent) believe pay audits should be compulsory for all organisations.

Only a fraction (eight percent) of respondents said their company has carried out an equal-pay audit, although this figure is over double that of the past two years, the survey found. The majority (68 percent) did not know if a pay audit had been conducted.

More than half (66 percent) of the women surveyed said they had not taken maternity leave, the survey also found.

Carrie Hartnell, programme manager at Intellect, added in a statement: "There have been some positive moves made within the industry to improve equality, and this is borne out in the improved perceptions that women are showing. There is much to be proud of with many signs of improvement, yet more work needs to be done if the industry is to reduce the pay gap."