Patricia Arquette’s gender wage gap speech at the Oscars has ignited fresh debate about the right to equal pay for women.
In the male-dominated world of technology, that disparity is even more acute and some tech companies are taking steps to close the gap. But if you’re a woman deciding where to look for a job, geography can play a role in ensuring you’re paid as much as your male colleagues.
A new ranking by personal finance Web site SmartAsset tries to categorize the best cities for women in technology based on 2013 Census data.
Surprisingly, (or perhaps not), only one city in the top 15 is part of the West Coast. Leading the list is Washington D.C., in large part due to the federal government, the study said. In addition, there are two cities on the list that don’t even have a gender pay gap — that’s right, women earn as much as men in those places — one in the Midwest; the other in the South.
Before diving into the results, a few quick notes on methodology:
— The jobs that were studied fall under ‘computer occupations,’ as defined by the Census. They include positions such as computer systems analysts, research scientists, software developers, and programmers.
— The study’s analysts considered four factors to determine the rankings and assigned a weight to each of them, according to SmartAsset managing editor AJ Smith. They are: women as a percentage of the tech workforce (30 percent weight), the ratio of median earnings for women and men in the same occupation (30 percent), income after housing cost (20 percent) and three-year change in the number of women holding tech jobs in that region (20 percent).
— Only cities with a tech workforce large enough to be considered statistically significant were considered. That means those with more than 200,000 residents, or 54 cities in total.
— Median annual salary was considered in the data, which does not include stock options or other perks. That means the absolute salary numbers may not present the full picture of compensation.
Here’s the full list, and some highlights below:
So why did Washington lead the pack? The answer likely lies with the federal government’s hiring policies, according to the study.
“While all employers, whether private or public sector, are required to comply by Equal Employment Opportunity laws, the federal government places a special emphasis on making sure that its workforce reflects the population at large. That means more opportunities for women in tech in DC than in other cities, and a better environment overall,” the study said.
The percentage of women in Washington’s tech workforce is the highest of all cities at just over 37 percent, followed only by New Orleans at 36.5 percent. Job prospects are also bright — the share of women in tech jobs here grew by 49 percent between 2010 and 2013.
There was no mention of D.C.’s blossoming start-up scene, although it is likely that this plays a part in the growth of tech sector jobs.
East Coast vs. West Coast
Fremont, Calif. was the only Bay Area city to feature on the list, which could mean that Silicon Valley may have the most tech jobs, but there’s still a large gap in the salaries that men and women in the region make.
On the East Coast, the City of Brotherly Love featured the smallest gender pay gap in the country. Men in Philadelphia’s tech sector make only 4.9 percent more on average than women do.
Based on numbers alone, New York City had the largest amount of women in the tech industry. At nearly 20,000 women, that’s more than three times the number in San Jose and almost four times that in San Francisco, according to SmartAsset.
What gender pay gap?
Kansas City, Mo. and Arlington, Texas were the only two cities on the list where women in tech jobs do not make less than their male counterparts.
The Midwestern city has become a start-up hub in recent years, and companies such as Google have piloted projects in the region. Where Kansas City falls in the rankings is in its job growth prospects — women have made up a smaller share of the tech workforce in recent years.
One of three Texas cities to be featured on the list, Arlington has the distinction of saying that women make 7 percent more than their male colleagues. Other Texas cities on the list include Houston and Plano, but not the most well-known, Austin, which is down at number 47.
Tucson has seen the biggest jump in the share of women joining the tech workforce between 2010 and 2013. Interestingly, the city also features the lowest median income of the top 15, at $37,030.
Tucson is home to Raytheon Missile Systems, the University of Arizona and Davis-Monthan Air Force base. The city has recently pushed to become more of a tech hub, and Apple’s plans to build a data facility out in Mesa could have ripple effects on those plans, according to local reports.