Despite the large migration of tech industry leaders to Dallas—a movement magnified by Uber’s relocation of their headquarters to Deep Ellum—recent reports suggest that the new tech jobs added are not being filled by women, and those that are don’t pay as well as the rest of the nation, or even other parts of the state.
Conducted by financial technology company SmartAsset, the study ranks cities’ friendliness toward women in the tech sector based on the gender pay gap in the local tech industry, women’s earnings after housing costs, representation of women in tech, and four-year tech employment growth across both genders. All measures except four-year employment growth carried a double weight during analysis. Other than its score for overall tech growth during the past four years, Dallas’ data did not paint a picture of diversity and inclusion: of the 59 cities ranked, Dallas ranked 54.
According to the report, women hold only 24.5 percent of Dallas’ tech jobs, and those women make only 77 percent of what their male counterparts do.
The average gender pay gap nationwide is 83 percent. Though she could not explain why Dallas’ pay gap is so large, vice president of financial education at SmartAsset AJ Smith says this year’s figures are worse than those in previous years.
“In 2016, the pay gap [in Dallas] was 85.4 percent,” she says. “The national average at that point was 86.7 percent.” This means, like pay disparities nationwide, Dallas’ gender pay gap is widening.
Income after earnings has decreased as well since 2016, falling from $47,139—a number roughly $11,000 below the national average at the time—to $43,444. In a seemingly healthy housing market, this seems to suggest not a rising cost of living, but a low average salary for tech workers in DFW.
“You can have a location that has lower housing costs … but if the salaries are lower than they are in other tech hubs, the difference can sometimes not be as positive,” Smith says.
Our city exceeds national trends for growth in tech, expanding the local industry roughly 28 percent during 2019—well above the 17 percent national average and the tenth-highest growth rate in the study.
“It shows that there are more tech opportunities [in Dallas],” says Smith. “We’re not seeing those go to women, and we’re not seeing women who do get those jobs being paid the same as men.”
Kristy Bonner, director of IT at Irving-based NCH Corporation, has seen the low representation of women in the local technology sector first hand.
“I think some of it is a pipeline issue because I would love to hire more women, and I just simply can’t get candidates in the door,” says Bonner.
The pay gap she suggests, is in part due to the positions that women in local tech hold, “The data scientists and software developers in general … are the positions that are highly paid,” says Bonner. “You tend to have more women in the project manager and business analyst roles … fewer women coming into the pipeline [are] women moving up into management, director, or senior leadership level.”
Interestingly, Houston’s metrics for women in tech do not echo Dallas’ figures, suggesting that a widening pay gap and low salary for women in tech are not a statewide phenomenon. Of America’s top five most densely populated cities, Houston is the only one to rank within the top 15 best cities for women in tech.
“Dallas is the sixth largest pay gap. Meanwhile, Houston is the second-best,” Smith says. “When we look at income after housing costs … Dallas is the eleventh lowest figure in our study. Houston, meanwhile, is the eighth highest.”
Though Dallas is growing faster, it seems Texas’ other urban cities may be growing inclusively.
“In the overall tech metric, Dallas is doing well,” Smith says. “But when it comes to the three metrics specific to women in tech, [Dallas is] really below average in all three of those metrics.”
Bonner suggests current tech leaders must champion diversity if we hope to bridge Dallas’ gender pay gap and increase women representation in tech — setting examples and advocating for both for young women choosing a career and women already in the tech scene seeking equitable pay. “Unless you get somebody in the organization who really champions having equity in the pay gap — diversity of thought, diversity of your team, having equitable positions and titles — that doesn’t happen.”