November 17 2023

Women in IT - in Serbia

I have recently read an article on a business portal on how women are often mistreated in the workplace, due to gender inequality. The article pointed out that women are often discriminated against based on their age.
Jelena Radojković
Founder & CEO

I have recently read an article on a business portal on how women are often mistreated in the workplace, due to gender inequality. The article pointed out that women are often discriminated against based on their age. For instance, at a later stage in life, they are perceived as unable to perform well because they are too old. Conversely, when they are young - they are too inexperienced, i.e. the work is deemed too difficult. Additionally, some women are simply not employed in the first place, supposing she plans to give birth soon. FInally, the main claim is the salary gap - women in IT are allegedly not paid as much as their male colleagues, allowing men to advance at a faster rate etc.

First of all, I would like to point out that the above-mentioned discrimination applies to both men and women. In addition, it is important to highlight that employees older than 45 have a harder time finding employment, regardless of gender, which stands as a pressing issue of the labor market of every single industry. What clients often point out is precisely the dynamic of the young team and that there is a fear that their existing dynamic would be disrupted by the arrival of an older person in the team. Interestingly, in team structures where employees are over 35 years old, this type of discrimination simply does not exist. A question arises whether this can be termed discrimination, considering that it is more related to the culture of the company. On the other hand, in the event that the position is expected to provide mentorship, managerial experience, rich life and professional experience is desirable for both women and men.

When I look back to the past five years, what I often noticed was that women within the same team and with the same experience as their male colleagues, earned about 1000 EUR less in 80% of cases. This trend has changed from 2021, as this percentage dropped to about 35% of women with earnings lower than those of their male colleagues. The moment I realized that women were discriminated against based on their pay grade, it disturbed me immediately, but then I decided to investigate the issue more deeply.

Until now, I have never been informed by clients that female candidates can receive less money. In fact, I was always only notified of the estimated budget, which applied to everyone, I expanded the range of questions in order to uncover an answer to this question. Actually, what I received as an answer was that female candidates are simply not informed about the salaries in the companies they interview for, believing that what they receive is enough. This is often a direct consequence of their lack of self-confidence and self-worth, so it female candidates are often underestimated compared to their male colleagues.

On the other hand, they often do not change companies, they are conformists, opting for "safe companies" and their aspirations towards progress mostly remain at the level of "if someone recognizes my potential". It is a common occurrence for them not to fully demonstrate their knowledge for fear that their Team Lead will find out, implying they have more knowledge than the leader in question, which should then be ascribed to the TL specifically. This is noticeable in women with over 8 years of experience, while female candidates with 5 years of professional experience are suddenly paid the same as their male colleagues.

In the case of managerial positions, there are no differences in salary between men and women. There is a trend, however, that both male and female candidates with more professional experience often ask for less money than their younger counterparts. So I believe that the very attitude towards income is based on different generational values, upbringing and sociological order that prevailed during their formative years.

A positive discrimination of women compared to men, is that women often get a job more easily and more quickly than men when they decide to apply. 95% of women who were in the process of our agency received a job offer from the first client they were presented to. Individual cases where this did not occur involved specific deal breakers for any candidate, not women specifically.

We have also noticed that women advance at a faster rate at the positions of Project Managers, Product Managers, and Agile Consultants, while men generally occupy the positions of Tech Leads, Architects, and Engineering Managers. And for that, the communication skills of women who are more receptive to balancing between teams and clients are often highlighted.

I believe that the IT industry itself is quite supportive of women, though do note that the sample was only taken from the pool of female engineers, not back-office positions, like HR, marketing etc. Nonetheless, at the industry level, both women and men need to strengthen their representation, as well as the transparent expression of their desire for the position to which they would progress and determine action steps to reach their goal, as well as career counseling and monitoring.

This was a brief description of the position of women from our perspective. What is your experience?