We surveyed almost 1,000 of the executive searches for top technology roles we’ve carried out since 2015. It revealed that average salaries for women leaders in the technology sector have moved ahead of men for the first time.

During the same time, both women’s share of top commercial roles and their earnings doubled. In fact, average salaries for women trumped those for men for the first time in 2018.

Challenges remain

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

To help address this challenge, Odgers Berndtson will be rolling out a mentoring initiative to fast-track senior women in technology, supported by industry partners.

“We are delighted with the progress made over the past five years for women in top commercial roles with global technology companies,” explains Mike Drew, Head of the Global Technology Executive Search Practice. “We hope this is just the start of far greater diversity, which our mentoring initiative aims to accelerate.”

Targeting 2020

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. This has analysed almost 1,000 our own executive searches across both commercial roles in the technology sector and specialist technology roles across all companies since 2015.

Pay gaps

Among other things, our report 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 £263,454 in 2018. This compares to an average commercial salary for men of £263,337 in the same year.

This nudges 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. Our study shows women placed in top technology roles like CIO and CTO almost doubled from 9% to 17% of total placements in 2018.

Slow progress

“The gender gap in functional technology roles is not closing as quickly as we might hope,” explains Caroline Sands, Head of the CIO and Technology Officers Executive Search 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.”

Senior focus

The Odgers Berndtson Leadership Mentoring Programme will focus on senior women in technology aiming for board and top executive roles. Holly Addison, who leads it, says: “Our aim is to further boost the numbers of senior women being placed in the most senior leadership roles across the sector where currently they are vastly underrepresented – particularly on boards.”

Ms Addison, who now leads on Consumer Technology & Telco for Odgers Berndtson UK, has adapted the mentoring programme for women in technology after launching the first industry-wide mentoring scheme for women in hospitality and leisure last year.

Odgers Berndtson has previously run successful mentoring for women in procurement, and we have developed a template, enabling our other industry Practices to provide similar support to women leaders, as in this case for technology.  

Download the full report

Caroline Sands

Caroline Sands is a Partner and Head of the CIO & IT Transformation Practice at Odgers Berndtson. She began her career in executive search in 2000 and has since developed a niche in the appointment...

Holly Addison

Holly is responsible for leading executive search assignments for clients across Consumer Technology, Digital, Hospitality, Events and Entertainment and has successfully delivered complex mandates...

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