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UK tech startups have worst gender pay gap in Europe

With women paid 26% less than men, the gender pay gap for UK tech startups was also higher than the national average across a range of industries

UK tech startups have the worst gender pay gap in Europe, according to new research.  

Data published by Figures and inclusive recruitment platform 50inTech show that the unadjusted gender pay gap for UK tech startups stands at 26%, far higher than the European average of 19% and above countries such as France, Germany, and the Netherlands.  

Statistics show that women in the UK tech sector are paid 74 pence for every £1 earned by men at startups. While this marks a 4 pence increase on the previous year, the research highlights that achieving gender pay equity is still a “long way off”. 

“Our data and 50inTech’s research demonstrates that there is still much more work to be done until the European tech industry becomes more equal, “said Virgile Raingeard, co-founder and CEO at Figures.  

“Startups in countries like the UK and Germany are starting to make marginal gains but it's still not enough. Women aren’t feeling valued and, in some cases, suspect they are being paid at least 20% less than their market value.” 

Regarding specific tech industry roles, the study found that women software engineers in the UK earn up to 20% less on average compared to men. Similarly, across the board startups were found to pay women significantly less than men compared to the UK’s national average.  

Issues at the top

A key factor driving the gender pay gap dispute in the broader European tech sector is a lack of senior representation for female workers, the study found.  

Women are still “highly underrepresented” in executive roles at tech companies across the continent, with just one female executive recorded for six male counterparts.  

Within the C-suite, women are also more likely to hold positions such as chief marketing officer (CMO) or chief human resources officer (CHRO), the study suggested, with fewer women holding roles such as chief technology officer (CTO) or chief executive.  

“This in itself is another driver of the pay gap as the latter are typically the best-paid executives,” the study said.  

Female tech workers know they’re undervalued 

Across Europe, women in tech are acutely aware that they are underpaid, the research found. Nearly one-third (32%) of respondents in mid-level roles feel they are being paid at least 20% less than they expect.  

The study warned that this represents a concerning statistic for many tech companies, who could risk losing critical employees and potential future leaders to other industries as they do not feel valued.  

Salary negotiations were also a key hurdle for female tech workers, the study shows.  

Over one-third (36%) feel “extremely stressed” at the thought of negotiating their salaries, whilst 7% of women will not apply if the salary is not indicated, which is preventing companies from broadening their hiring pool.  

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A majority (83%) of respondents said listing salaries on job offers should be a priority to demonstrate salary transparency and a way to make them feel confident when it comes to discussing salaries during job interviews. 

Hélène Lucien, CPO at 50inTech, agreed that salary transparency should be a key priority for tech startups across the continent.  

“When interviewing women across the European tech industry for this research, the results are extremely clear,” she said. “More information is needed at recruitment stages to enable women to understand their worth and value and companies need to make commitments to providing support and training so women can grow within the business.” 

“Salary transparency is only the tip of the iceberg, there needs to be systemic action to support women from reliable tools to display median salaries in tech to better access to qualified networks of mentors - this will help them thrive at work and ultimately make businesses more successful.”   

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