From this week women across the UK will effectively work for free - and in tech it’s even worse

Female tech worker working at computer station
(Image credit: Getty Images)

From this week, the average woman in the UK will essentially stop being paid in comparison to male colleagues for the rest of the year due to pay disparities. 

Statistics published to coincide with Equal Pay Day (EPD), a symbolic day marking women’s undercompensated labor across society, highlights the pay disparity between men and women in terms of time. 

The difference in hourly pay between men and women, shown as a proportion of men’s pay, indicates the point at which women are no longer being compensated.

This year’s Equal Pay Day is just 48 hours later than 2022’s EPD, indicating progress towards shrinking the pay gap is slow.

Worryingly, the gender pay gap in the technology sector is 16% higher than the national average, which would mean an equal pay day specific to women working in the tech sector would land on 11 November. 

Female representation in tech has been a concern in the UK, and more broadly across the globe, for many years. Yet despite in-roads being made to improve gender diversity across the technology industry, pay disparities are still rampant.

Skillsoft released its annual Women in Tech report earlier in 2023, which revealed some stark inequalities that still face women in the sector today. 

For example, 42% of the women who took part in the study reported a lack of equity in pay and 39% cited a lack of equity in opportunities as a key hurdle they face while pursuing a tech  career.

The latent inequalities in the tech sector are stifling women who are looking to advance in the industry, the study found. Nearly half (49%) of respondents were ‘less than thrilled’ with their growth potential.

Similarly, nearly 60% of women who took part in the study have plans to leave their current role within two years, with 21% expect to leave in less than a year. 

The most common reason given by respondents planning to leave their company was issues concerning the work life balance in their current role.

Asking the experts: Why does tech have a particular problem with gender inequality?

Speaking to ITPro, Taps Mtutu, senior program manager at SEO London, identified a lack of awareness around the opportunities in technology as a prominent obstacle blocking women from entering the industry.

“One significant barrier to tech roles is the lack of awareness amongst females about the breadth of opportunities within the tech industry. Many individuals in underrepresented communities don’t know tech isn’t limited to tech companies alone. Opening up education at an earlier level in schools can help to start to raise this lack of awareness”, Mtutu explained.

“To overcome this, we need to offer support that opens doors to opportunities, but this must go beyond awareness and address the practical steps needed for women to enter and progress in the tech workforce.”

Mtutu suggested support such as boosting the accessibility of upskilling courses and coding bootcamps, as well as business skill development like assistance with crafting a CV or building a personal portfolio.


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Yet Mtutu also acknowledged measures to promote gender equality must also go beyond this and address a pervading sense that women don’t feel like they belong in the male-dominated tech environment.

“It's not all practical however, the feeling that the tech industry is simply ‘out of reach’ is a common sentiment among underrepresented groups too, perhaps because we are not seeing enough women and diversity at the top,” she said.

This tracks with the experiences of Robin Sutara, field CTO at Databricks, who reported self-confidence was a factor that had previously stuntedher career progression.

“A problem that I faced earlier in my career was that I frequently did not consider applying for senior positions, because I didn’t meet all of the criteria listed in the job description. Even now, women often disqualify themselves from certain roles that they would likely excel at, because they do not tick all the boxes on the job ad.”

Sutara thinks this is partly down to a common feeling that one needs a background in STEM as a prerequisite to working in technology. 

“However, this is not the case. Those without a traditional STEM background, from fields such as the arts or law, will find themselves skilled at telling stories with data, and translating the language of data into actionable business objectives.”

Sutara suggests the onus is on the employers to broaden their talent acquisition searches beyond traditional backgrounds. 

“Employers should look outside of traditional qualifications as a key starting point to build a more diverse industry in the future, with female representation even at the highest levels of leadership becoming the norm.” 

Solomon Klappholz
Staff Writer

Solomon Klappholz is a Staff Writer at ITPro. He has experience writing about the technologies that facilitate industrial manufacturing which led to him developing a particular interest in IT regulation, industrial infrastructure applications, and machine learning.