New women show that Silicon Valley has room for improvement – and that it may not be going in the right direction.
New York-based personal finance firm SmartAsset recently released its results for 2021 on the best US cities for women in tech. For this year’s study – for the seventh year in a row – the company evaluated 63 cities across the country with at least 200,000 inhabitants and ranked them based on the gender pay gap in the industry, income after placement, the proportion of women in technology and employment growth in engineering a 3 years.
When all that was added up, San Jose came in at number 30 – a steep decline from 2020 when the city was also number 25 on the list on the same metrics.
This year’s SmartAsset report draws on information from the U.S. Census from 2019, the last year the data was available. That means it doesn’t include all of the data on how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the industry. In San Jose, the study shows that 22.6 percent of tech roles are held by women, but that number could have changed as the pandemic has since drawn many women out of the workforce across the country.
“Now is more than ever a time for companies to change their mindsets and attitudes,” Mark LoCastro, director of public relations for SmartAsset, told SJI. “Hopefully this year and in the future things will normalize and become more even for everyone.”
The SmartAsset report – and the fall in the ranking in San Jose – reveals a longstanding problem for Silicon Valley LoCastro. Although tech jobs are incredibly desirable and often well paid, women have seen systematic difficulties securing tech jobs and earn less than their male counterparts, he said.
“While Silicon Valley is widely considered the technology hub of the United States, only two California cities are in our top 15: Long Beach and Sacramento, and none of them are in the Bay Area,” he said.
The annual analysis comes from lawyers and technicians increasingly and publicly calling on employers in the white and male dominated tech industry to improve justice and equality in their workplaces. That includes gender, said Sara Murdock, a senior program strategist with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group
“Gender equality really does exist in the context of social justice,” she said. “When women and gender-specific non-binaries expand their leadership opportunities on a global level, they are all individuals with complex life stories and dreams.”
However, unlike the SmartAsset report, Murdock paints an optimistic picture of the future of tech equity. In her opinion, the change has started. Technical leaders she speaks to through her work with the Leadership Group are becoming increasingly aware and focused on specific internal practices, including recruiting, hiring, retention and talent development, she said.
“The region really enjoys a moment of self-reflection,” she said. “We say, ‘Technology is not only an integral part of our personal and professional lives, but technology culture actually leads the way in terms of equity.'”
The female technicians in San Jose did better in at least one way: Average income after housing costs, LoCastro said. However, the wage gap between men and women continues to widen, the data show.
In the first 2015 edition of this study, women in engineering in San Jose made 86.4 percent of the earnings of their male employees. in 2021 this figure fell to 81 percent.
“Overall, if you look at the growing tech hubs, there are growing wage gaps for women in tech, although tech employment has been growing above average in those areas,” LoCastro said. “Just because a sector is robust, has more hires and more jobs for women, doesn’t mean they get paid more.”