Analyzing census job and wage data, a new report ranks cities with the best environment for women in tech positions.
Feb 24, 2016

Despite the recent spate of diversity and inclusion initiatives, the gap between genders in tech is just as wide as ever, according to a new report from SmartAsset.

The financial software and data firm just completed its second annual analysis of Census Bureau data and found that overall, women still make up just over a quarter (26.5{a45a479a6a0e3a567541a4effd835a3fa20bb58217711b6cf8e992d482cf4df7}) of tech jobs in the U.S. and earn, on average, 85{a45a479a6a0e3a567541a4effd835a3fa20bb58217711b6cf8e992d482cf4df7} of what their male counterparts in similar positions earn.

To determine the ratios and the pay gaps, SmartAsset analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau for both women and men in “computer and mathematical occupations.” It’s important to note that because the census doesn’t publish more detailed tables of employment and compensation that it used to, computer and mathematical occupations are combined in one category.

Even though SmartAsset found that computer/tech jobs make up about 94{a45a479a6a0e3a567541a4effd835a3fa20bb58217711b6cf8e992d482cf4df7} of the category based on last year’s data, the mathematical jobs tend to skew the results a bit. “There is greater gender equality in mathematical occupations, which means the data used in this year’s analysis paints a rosier picture of the tech industry’s gender dynamics,” according to the report’s authors.

From there, the analysts looked at 58 of the largest cities in the U.S. where the tech workforce was big enough for statistically significant census survey results. For each city they calculated the following four metrics:

  • Women as a percentage of the tech workforce
  • Gender pay gap in tech
  • Income after housing costs (median income for women in computer and mathematical occupations minus typical housing costs such as real estate taxes, insurance and mortgage payments)
  • Three-year tech employment growth for both men and women

Each of the cities was ranked by giving full weight to the first three metrics and half to employment growth. Scores ranged from 0 to 100, with 100 being the best environment for women working in tech.

The findings show that in cities dominated by tech companies, the disparity can be greater. In San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle, for example, tech workforces are more than 75{a45a479a6a0e3a567541a4effd835a3fa20bb58217711b6cf8e992d482cf4df7} male.

Drilling down further by company, SmartAsset’s analysts found that industry leaders aren’t making changes, even with measures such as the Rooney Rule, which is designed to diversify the pipeline of skilled people vying for executive positions.

A breakdown from this report of the top companies of the percentage of technical positions held by women shows that the gender ratios are worse than the average:

  • Twitter: 13{a45a479a6a0e3a567541a4effd835a3fa20bb58217711b6cf8e992d482cf4df7}
  • Amazon: 11{a45a479a6a0e3a567541a4effd835a3fa20bb58217711b6cf8e992d482cf4df7}
  • Google: 18{a45a479a6a0e3a567541a4effd835a3fa20bb58217711b6cf8e992d482cf4df7}
  • Microsoft: 16.9{a45a479a6a0e3a567541a4effd835a3fa20bb58217711b6cf8e992d482cf4df7}
  • Apple: 22{a45a479a6a0e3a567541a4effd835a3fa20bb58217711b6cf8e992d482cf4df7}
  • Facebook: 16{a45a479a6a0e3a567541a4effd835a3fa20bb58217711b6cf8e992d482cf4df7}

On the flip side, there are cities where the gender gap narrows for both pay and positions. In Indianapolis, Kansas City, Missouri, and Detroit, women are paid slightly more than men in the same tech jobs, and in Washington, D.C., women make up just over 40{a45a479a6a0e3a567541a4effd835a3fa20bb58217711b6cf8e992d482cf4df7} of the tech workforce.

Taking a closer look at the top cities indicates several reasons they rank above hubs such as Silicon Valley for women.


Washington, D.C., is the home of the federal government that not only supports a large number of technical positions, but as the report’s analysts note, “often prioritizes the types of fair employment practices that can lead to greater workplace diversity.”

Kansas City took the number two spot for the second year in a row for both pay equity and workforce representation. “Median pay for women in Kansas City’s computer and mathematical occupations is $67,587, which is about $500 more than the median pay for men,” analysts note.

Detroit beats out all the other cities for three-year tech employment growth, percentage of women holding tech jobs, and pay ratio. SmartAsset’s analysts found that at businesses that make their home in the Motor City such as Quicken Loans (which does not report specifically on tech jobs), women hold 45{a45a479a6a0e3a567541a4effd835a3fa20bb58217711b6cf8e992d482cf4df7} of all jobs and 43{a45a479a6a0e3a567541a4effd835a3fa20bb58217711b6cf8e992d482cf4df7} of management positions.

Other cities not only have a tech presence, but have diversity initiatives, conventions, and coalitions to support women in tech. In New Orleans, for instance, where women have 38.1{a45a479a6a0e3a567541a4effd835a3fa20bb58217711b6cf8e992d482cf4df7} representation among tech workers, the analysts found that organizations such as New Orleans Women in Tech encourage a more inclusive culture for women. Philadephia, too, has a smaller gender gap at 33{a45a479a6a0e3a567541a4effd835a3fa20bb58217711b6cf8e992d482cf4df7} and is home to the nonprofit organization TechGirlz, which is dedicated to eliminating the tech-industry gender gap.