WOTC: Women In IT Turned Down For Raises More Often Than Men In 2021

“We’ve talked about: ‘You have to lean in, you have to raise your hand and show them you want it. This isn’t about women not ‘bucking up. These statistics show that we are doing that, actually, more frequently than men,” said Lisa MacKenzie, founding partner of The Channel Company during the Women Of The Channel 2021 events.


Women in the male-dominated tech industry have always faced challenges with pay parity and climbing the ranks, and the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t do women any favors.

A recent study from Dartmouth University found that a greater proportion of women — 64 percent compared to 59 percent of men — asked for raises in 2021 but were turned down twice as often as men. The study also found that women who brought strong or identical counter offers to the bargaining table were more likely to end at an impasse with no raise at all.

“This research is challenging a lot of things we thought we knew; the historical norm of assuming women don’t ask for raises is not true,” said Lisa MacKenzie, founding partner of CRN parent The Channel Company, during the Women Of The Channel 2021 events.

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Perhaps even more concerning is that pursuing higher levels of education and rising through the ranks actually increases the gender gap in pay, according to research from The Wall Street Journal.

Women in the workplace in the U.S. right now continue to be paid less than men in equal positions at approximately 82 cents on the dollar, which decreases for women of color and women in high-level positions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The higher you go, the bigger that pay gap becomes,” MacKenzie said. “A decade out of their MBA, the gap increases to 74 cents on the dollar … we’ve moved up and we’re making less.”

The Channel Company’s State of the Women Of The Channel 2021 research found that 40 percent of women respondents reported being passed over for a raise. A whopping 46 percent of respondents said they know a female that has left the workforce entirely during the pandemic.

“We’ve talked about: ‘You have to lean in, you have to raise your hand and show them you want it. This isn’t about women not ‘bucking up,’” MacKenzie said. “These statistics show that we are doing that, actually, more frequently than men.”

Christy Womack, senior business operations manager at BMC Software, has been on her own growth mission and is actively working on advancing her career through a larger promotion. “I’m constantly asking about what I can take on to get to that next step, and asking for feedback is important, too,” she said.

Womack has run up against roadblocks in the past, but she’s not letting that slow her down. “I’m not giving up,” she said. “I’m going to keep on going with my journey.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, both men and women said they prefer male leaders for larger teams and female leaders for smaller teams. However, large teams usually mean higher pay.

“If you’re starting out early in your career and you say: ‘I don’t think I can take that big team, I’m going to start with a small team,’ it starts to have a snowball effect in our careers of potentially making decisions that are going to increase that pay gap for us or inability for us to get that next job,” MacKenzie said.

Anita Eller, director of product management at TD Synnex, agrees that some women are fearful to take on more within their company.

“When my children were smaller, I would not accept the responsibility to be away from my children,” she said. “And when I first started in this industry 27 years ago, we didn’t have the flexibility to have a six-to-three work schedule or anything like that.”

But throughout her career, she’s learned to be flexible with her time, and the industry has too. When she finally took the opportunity to move up in her company, she had been in the industry for 15 years. “And the older you get, the harder it is because you either get set in your ways or don’t want to take on all that extra responsibility, the extra travel, but you have to either bite the bullet or you stay where you are,” she said.

The silver lining that’s become apparent, however, is that young women at the beginning of their careers want to raise their hand more than ever before. The State of the Women Of The Channel research found that 52 percent of women under 40 and 71 percent of women under 30 are interested in pursuing the C-Suite.

“What are we doing to get these women, at a very young age, on the right track to get there?” MacKenzie said. “How do we [nurture] that enthusiasm instead of saying: ‘It’s always been done this way.”

“You can’t really say: ‘Go out there and change our world! But wait, here are the lines,” said Shelliy Cymbalski, chief marketing officer for solution provider iT1. Cymbalski said that she recently hired a new staff member and had a meeting to let her team know that this person would be giving important feedback. “I really didn’t want to say: ‘This is the way we’ve always done it,’“ she added.

Professional development programs are important in helping young professionals rise through the ranks. It’s something that iT1 is starting to prioritize in a hybrid format as many employees work from home, Cymbalski said.

“You have to carve out time and make it more formal,” she said. “It comes down to keeping people happy and growing.”