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Study Reveals Women Still ‘Massively Under-Represented’ in Tech Sector


Job vacancies and salaries in the technology sector boomed in 2019 according to a study published today, although the figures show that women are still lagging behind in the career market.

In a salary survey by digital recruitment specialist Xcede, covering software, data, digital creative and marketing roles, data was gathered from jobs seekers and employers across 22 industries and revealed that pay and opportunities increased across the board over the past 12 months.

Digital creative industries

The digital creative sector is now responsible for 9.6% of all UK jobs and has seen one of the highest rates of acceleration according to the survey, with an 11% year on year salary increase for professionals working within UX/UI, product and digital project management. The study found that new roles are being generated by start-ups, scale-ups and big brands that have shifted their focus and investment to digital following transformational change.

Product management roles have the highest entry level salaries of the digital creative roles surveyed, with junior roles offering an average salary of £36K, rising to £140K at director level.

However, digital creative is the sector that demonstrates the biggest gender pay gap with men earning an average of 12.5% more than women.

Julian Vecchio, managing director of Xcede’s UK permanent division, said career opportunities for product and UX specialists in the digital creative sector were benefitting from a clear trend towards putting customers first.

“There has been a huge shift towards organisations putting customers at the heart of their thinking and strategy to create user-centric and cross-functional product teams for developing products that can keep pace with change, pushing up demand for UX designers and product managers,” he said.

“Given how dynamic digital teams have become, it’s startling that our analysis has also identified that women are still massively under-represented and under paid, right across the tech industry,” he added.

Software development and engineering

Data analysis of Xcede’s job placement data for 2019 in the software development and engineering sector shows that just 14% of its vacancies were filled by women last year.

Julian commented that these figures are particularly striking because the market for senior software developers and engineers is so buoyant.

“Mid and senior Ruby developers can command contract fees of £500 a day and senior JavaScript specialists often charge even more, making this one of the most lucrative of the high growth sectors we operate in,” he explained.

The survey shows that JavaScript skills are still amongst the most highly sought after but demand for backend Python developers is strong and growing. AI and machine learning are key areas of growth and the study reveals that candidates with experience in these areas are in particular demand, especially in start-up community.

Those specialising in Ruby, JavaScript and C++ can command the highest salaries, with PHP roles paying the least. A junior Ruby developer can expect to earn an average of £39K compared to £27K for a PHP developer.

Julian said that whilst salary is an important motivating factor for job seekers, culture is often just as important.

“Companies that can offer remote working and an environment that encourages innovation and experimentation are more likely to attract the best talent – and hold onto good people,” he insisted.

Data science and analytics

The Xcede survey reveals that demand for data scientists and data engineers has risen 231% over the past five years and has shown the steepest promotion curve of all the sectors studied.

Julian said:

“Data scientists and engineers tend to become highly specialised in their particular field which means they move up the ladder quickly, often taking just 12 to 18 months to move from junior to senior status.”

On average men working in data earn 9% more than women, compared to an average gender pay gap of 7.6% in other tech roles.

In the data sector, machine learning engineers and research scientists are the highest paid roles with salaries of up to £45K typical, even at junior level.

Digital marketing

Some of the lowest entry level salaries are in digital marketing where junior SEO, PPC and content roles generally start at £25K, although director level salaries rise to between £85K and £97K.

The study found that over the last 12 months vacancies in digital marketing have risen by 7% with paid media, SEO and content roles the most prolific.

Julian said:

“The key trend in 2019 was personalisation and this is likely to continue in 2020, with data experts and digital marketers working ever more closely together to create relevant and highly targeted customer experiences.”