Women in technology double top roles and out-earn men for the first time


Global executive search firm, Odgers Berndtson, has disclosed that average salaries for women leaders in the technology sector have moved ahead of men for the first time.

The finding was disclosed in a global study of almost 1,000 executive searches for top roles in technology, which the firm has carried out since 2015. During this time both the women’s share of top commercial roles, and their earnings, doubled – with average salaries for women exceeding those for men for the first time in 2018.

However, the study also shows that significant challenges remain for women in many areas of technology, notably across specialist roles.

Mike Drew, head of the global technology practice at Odgers Berndtson, said: “We are delighted with the progress made over the past five years for women in top commercial roles with global technology companies. We hope this is just the start of far greater diversity, which our mentoring initiative aims to accelerate.”

At the end of last year, the Hampton-Alexander Review, backed by the government, reported that the number of women on FTSE 100 boards has exceeded 30% for the first time, but in smaller companies and executive roles there is still much to do. Its aim is to achieve a third of women on boards of all FTSE 350 companies by 2020.

Some industry functions and sectors, however, including technology, face particular challenges. Tech UK, a membership body representing the UK technology sector, has noted that overall only 17% of the those working in technology roles are female.

At the leadership level, numbers of women are lower still, recently estimated at around 9% globally and 5% in the UK.

The extent of this challenge, and progress made in the past five years across top roles, is detailed in the Odgers Berndtson Women Leaders in Technology Study. The firm has analysed almost 1,000 of its own executive searches across both commercial roles in the technology sector and specialist technology roles across all companies since 2015.

It reveals that:

  • Average pay differentials for women placed by Odgers Berndtson in top commercial roles in the technology sector have almost disappeared in the past five years, with average salaries for top female executives rising from £122,000 in 2013 (less than half the male average) to £330,000 in 2018. This put average salaries for women in top commercial roles at technology companies ahead of those for men for the first time
  • Since 2015 women almost doubled their share of leadership placements in technology companies from 11% to over 20% of appointments
  • Men still dominate the most highly-paid technology leadership roles in general. Women, however, are narrowing the gap, particularly in placements of commercial leaders in the technology sector
  • In the technology function, for leadership roles including Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer, men still dominate both in numbers and earning power, with significantly higher salary packages
  • The number of women successfully placed as technology leaders is increasing, nonetheless. The Odgers Berndtson study shows women placed in top technology roles like CIO and CTO almost doubled from 9% to 17% of total placements in 2018.

“The gender gap in functional technology roles is not closing as quickly as we might hope,” said Caroline Sands, head of the CIO and technology officers practice at Odgers Berndtson. “Although the most talented female technologists are now more likely to reach the top, in many specialist areas there won’t be gender parity until fundamental concerns of younger women over culture are addressed.”