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Gender Pay Gap Persists for IT Staffers

Businessman and businesswoman on piles of coins illustrating gap in pay

In its latest analysis of IT salaries in higher education, the Educause Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) found that a significant salary gap between men and women persists among IT staff, with female staff members paid, on average, $7,023 less than their male counterparts. A separate ECAR report on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) found that higher education IT is not keeping pace with the larger U.S. workforce in its employment of underrepresented groups.

The IT salaries report found, however, that there are not statistically significant differences in the salaries of male ($150,053) and female ($150,753) CIOs, nor is there one between average male ($106,548) and female ($102,203) IT manager salaries.

Higher education IT employees are paid well, even by private-sector standards: The median of all higher education IT salaries across all position types is $90,000, or about $3,700 more than the median salary of computer and IT occupations in the U.S. CIOs earn the most ($140,000), followed by managers ($100,000) and IT staff ($70,000).

The DEI report said that the current composition of the higher ed IT workforce "continues to be dominated by white, male, and older professionals. IT organizations that recognize the ways in which monocultural work environments stunt innovation, creativity, and effectiveness are at a clear advantage over those that fail to do so."

The researchers found that the higher education IT community is split on whether their institution's IT workforce reflects their community's diversity. A plurality (47 percent) of respondents said that their IT organization reflects the diversity of their campus community and the community in which the campus is located, but nearly a third disagreed. Millennials and individuals with disabilities reported higher rates of disagreement, and more women than men said the diversity in their central IT organizations was not reflective of their on- and off-campus communities.

The research found that employees who are encouraged to participate in and/or do actually participate in DEI workshops are more likely to see DEI as an important contributor to their professional development in their current position. The more that employees think DEI training contributes to their professional development, the more likely they are to consider DEI to be a priority for themselves and their colleagues, supervisors, units, IT organizations, institutions and communities, ECAR said.

ECAR first published the Higher Education IT Salary Report in 2016. In that report, it identified variables related to individual demographics and career paths, characteristics of current positions, and characteristics of current institutions that the researchers thought would have an impact on determining the salaries of IT staff, managers and CIOs. These factors included gender, generation, ethnicity, education level, years of experience and presidential cabinet membership for CIOs.

The 2019 report revisits these original predictors and considering others to help determine why and how higher education IT employees earn what they earn. Among the findings:

  • Education level, age, and institution type are significantly correlated with salary. IT professionals who hold master's degrees and Ph.D.s can expect to earn significantly more than those with bachelor's and associate degrees; older employees with more experience tend to earn more than younger employees with less experience; and IT professionals who are employed at doctoral institutions — and especially at private doctorals — earn significantly more than those at other types of institutions.
  • Some higher education IT sectors pay better than others. Higher education IT professionals who hold positions in data, analytics and business intelligence; information security and services; research computing/cyberinfrastructure; and executive leadership have higher salaries. Those in academic computing/instructional technology; design, media and web; and desktop services or client support have lower salaries.
  • Institution type, cabinet membership and years of experience in higher education prior to one's current institution are the only factors among those ECAR considered that predict CIO salaries significantly. CIOs at doctoral institutions earn the most; AA/BA institution CIOs earn the least. Controlling for other factors, cabinet-level CIOs earn about $30,000 more than those who do not hold cabinet posts. For each year of prior experience in higher education at another institution, CIOs earn about $1,200 more.

ECAR noted that its data suggest that the number of direct reports an individual has translates into greater responsibilities, and that greater responsibility translates into higher salary levels. In addition, higher percentages of CIOs on a president's or a chancellor's board engage more in strategic activities — for example, discussing the IT implications of institutional decisions with senior leadership, and shaping or influencing institutional administrative and strategic decisions. The extra responsibilities and greater influence that accompany board membership do, in fact, translate into higher salaries.

Closing the Gender Gap

Earlier this year, Campus Technology interviewed several university executives about their efforts to raise the profile of women IT employees in order to change the culture and improve staff recruitment and retention efforts: Read more in "Working to Close the Gender Gap in IT."

Returning to the persistence of the gender payment gap, ECAR's report concluded by saying: "One of the most important things that higher education IT organizations can do is work to close the salary gap between men and women. Our results suggest that there continues to be a systematic pattern in which female staff members are paid significantly lower wages than their male counterparts, even after controlling for other salary predictors. IT organizations should consider auditing their compensation packages by gender to guarantee that equitable salaries are paid for equitable work."

A hub with details on the latest reports is available on the Educause site.

About the Author

David Raths is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer focused on information technology. He writes regularly for several IT publications, including Healthcare Innovation and Government Technology.

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