Technology start-ups shown to have ‘shocking’ gender pay gap

A “shocking” pay gap in Britain’s technology start-ups leaves women earning almost a third less than men in many senior roles.

Female staff with “chief” in their job title in technology businesses with fewer than 20 staff are paid on average 29 per cent less than their male counterparts, according to a study by Forward Partners, the venture capital firm.

Its survey of more than 350 people working in start-ups, including founders, directors and managers, highlighted a gender pay gap that “prevails across the industry” but is particularly acute for those in senior roles.

While women operating at director level and below received marginally higher base salaries than male employees, Forward Partners said that “a glass ceiling still exists at the highest levels”.

Male founders awarded themselves salaries that were “100 per cent higher” than female counterparts.

The investment company said: “Although [technology] start-ups are often held up as a beacon of . . . opportunity and equality, it appears that this is simply not the case.”

Four out of five founders are male, Forward Partners said. It added that the findings of its start-up salary survey were also “borne out by our day-to-day experience” of backing start-ups.

Cathy White, director of GeekGirl Meetup UK, a networking organisation for women in technology start-ups, called the report “shocking”.

“Small businesses should do more to close the gap entirely and stand out from much larger organisations that struggle to make quick changes,” she said. “It would make [commercial] sense for start-ups to offer the best deal possible to attract the best talent.

“I’d call for all women to ask for a pay review and for founders to assess whether they treat all their staff as equals.”

According to the Office for National Statistics’ annual survey of hours and earnings, female workers are paid less than their male colleagues in technology jobs ranging from programming to data processing. The pay gap in the industry is higher than the national average. Women earn 18 per cent less than men on average across all roles, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.