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Updated on Monday, March 29, 2021
Jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are projected to rise 8% by 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). And while women working in STEM jobs have higher median earnings than women in non-STEM roles, there’s still a bit of a wage gap to overcome to catch up to men in STEM professions.
But that gap is narrowing. In fact, women in computer, engineering and science occupations — or tech jobs, for the purposes of this study — in Cape Coral, Fla., and Winston-Salem, N.C., make more than men on average, according to a MagnifyMoney analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Here’s what else we learned.
- Key findings
- Women in tech jobs in the Cape Coral, Fla., metro area earn 3% more on average than men in the same occupation
- Southern states dominate top 10 metros for women in tech
- Go West, young man — but maybe not young woman
- 3 investing tips for women in tech
- Women in tech jobs in the Cape Coral, Fla., metro area earn 3% more on average than men in the same occupation. Women’s median tech earnings there average $48,691, compared with $47,102 for men.
- Winston-Salem, N.C., is the only other metro where women in tech earn more on average than men in tech. Women in tech there earn $70,525, or 2% more than men at $68,994.
- Women in Provo, Utah, face the largest gender tech wage gap — by far. Women in the occupation there earn an average of $43,412, only 54% that of men’s tech earnings — $80,391. Portland, Ore., and Ogden, Utah, tie for the second-worst gender wage gap for women in tech, at 61% that of men.
- The median earnings among the five metros with the smallest gap for women in technology is $63,686, 31% more than the $48,546 for the five metros with the biggest gap.
Women in tech jobs in the Cape Coral, Fla., metro area earn 3% more on average than men in the same occupation
Standing out in our rankings as one of only two metros where women in tech outearn men, Cape Coral, Fla., seems like it might be a better place for women in tech than plenty of other metros.
That being said, Winston-Salem, N.C., might be the better option of the two job markets where women have a stronghold. This is due to a larger share of available jobs and higher median tech salaries overall — $70,525, compared with $48,691 in Cape Coral, Fla. While Cape Coral is home to budding biotechnical and health care industries, Winston-Salem boasts a larger number of tech jobs, in part because of employers such as Wake Forest University and major manufacturers like HanesBrands.
Both metros are on the rise and make good options for folks looking to get in on the ground level of what could become a tech hub. Winston-Salem in particular boasts a downtown section dubbed Innovation Quarter to attract companies and workers dedicated to research and development in the tech industry.
Of course, gender pay parity can vary widely by employer, no matter the location. But MagnifyMoney researchers sought to find places where it appears more tech employers might be prioritizing fair pay.
Southern states dominate top 10 metros for women in tech
Overall, women in tech seeking salaries close to or on par with men in the same industry might be best served in the South.
Southern states contributed seven of the top 10 metros where women’s median salaries in tech come closest to or exceeded men’s. These Southern metros offer women on average 96% of the income earned by men.
In addition to Cape Coral, Fla. has two other metros — Deltona and Palm Bay — that boast higher women-to-men salary ratios. Connecticut also has two metros in our top 10, so Hartford and New Haven could make excellent options for women in tech who can’t stand the Florida heat.
When it comes to gender pay parity, notably absent from our top metros are some of the major tech hubs. San Jose, Calif., and Austin-Round Rock, Texas, came in at Nos. 43 and 57, respectively. It’s refreshing to see some up-and-coming tech hubs starting off on the right foot, but job seekers looking for roles with the major Big Tech companies might be discouraged to see the pay gaps in cities where companies like Apple and Google call home.
Go West, young man — but maybe not young woman
Though most of the metros we examined show women’s income falls short of men in the tech industry, some places have a much wider gap to close. Provo, Utah, lands at the bottom of our rankings, where women in tech only make 54% of men’s income on average.
This is not too surprising, given a recent MagnifyMoney study identified Provo as the top metro among the largest 100 where women face the worst pay gap overall (industry wasn’t a factor).
As for women in tech, it appears West might not be best, as the bottom three and four total of the bottom 10 metros are in the West. The South took the other six spots, which is interesting given they represented so many states at the top of the list.
Overall, our research found women in tech make 63% of what men take home on average in the places with the worst pay gaps.
3 investing tips for women in tech
Overcoming the gender pay gap isn’t easy on an individual, industry or national level. But women in tech can use their skills to their advantage to both bolster their own financial security and hopefully be able to meet or exceed men’s positioning.
1. Turn your tech prowess into financial gain
Knowing the ins and outs of the tech world might be able to give you an advantage when it comes to investing.
“There’s no secret to being a good investor, but women who are tech savvy are just smart in general and are less likely to be afraid to invest their money,” MagnifyMoney content director Ismat Mangla said.
Whether it’s having a small advantage with digital investing tools or having a keen eye on big market movers — many of which these days are tech companies — women in tech have opportunities when looking to invest.
2. Look to the future — and keep building it
Many of the metros already doing well in terms of pay parity might not be measuring up to your expectations of a tech hub yet. But everybody has to start somewhere. Taking your time to work your way up to the big leagues — which may or may not be in Silicon Valley — can help you build up savings, pay off debt and boost your resume.
“If women can succeed — and attain pay parity with men — in a place that’s less expensive to live in, all the better,” Mangla said. “That means that women can save money, put more toward investing and making their nest eggs grow, and help build the culture and community that doesn’t have a huge national spotlight yet.”
The allure of big cities like San Francisco can be tempting, but a high cost of living isn’t always worth the hype.
3. Keep pressing for change
Since women in tech are generally ahead of women in other industries when it comes to income, they might be better positioned to push for institutional change. That could mean encouraging your company to hire more women (and pay them appropriately) or taking political actions to press for legislative protection against unfair pay practices.
“When women do well financially, they have the ability to lift other women up along with them, either by inspiring them or creating job opportunities,” Mangla said.
Analysts used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey (1-year) on those in computer, engineering and science occupations — or tech jobs for the purposes of this study — to determine the percentage difference between men’s earnings and women’s earnings among the 100 most-populated metropolitan areas in the U.S.