Minneapolis-St. Paul is the 2nd worst place for women in tech. Or maybe not.

Stay clear of Minnesota, girls.

Stay clear of Minnesota, girls.

Women don’t get paid as much as men do for the same work. There’s a world of research to support that.

But one Los Angeles research company recently published some particularly dire news for the Minneapolis tech scene: Women here make an average of $66,000 to every $103,000 a man makes, according to Comparably. That makes Minneapolis the nation’s second worst tech hub for equal pay, after Atlanta.

Minneapolis ought to be ashamed of paying lady techies 60 cents on the dollar. But local professionals were surprised to hear that Minneapolis had such a huge pay gap, and that led to an examination of Comparably’s methodology.  

Comparably is a new company founded in March. It offers a search engine that allows people to check out how much their peers are earning, in return for sharing their own salary information. Everything is self-reported.

Then there’s the question of how many people in Minneapolis used Comparably between March and last week, when the survey came out. Comparably CEO Jason Nazar says he doesn't know the number off the top of his head, but assures us there were at least 200 respondents for each ranked city.

Unfortunately, there are an estimated 113,000 Minnesotans who work in technology. Using just 200 people — especially without ensuring they represent those 113,000 — will earn you a ready F from any self-respecting statistician.   

But while the stats and the Twin Cities' ranking might be suspect, women in the field aren't ready to categorically dismiss the essence of the findings.

“There’s actually a lot of really great research about how men will advocate for themselves in terms of asking for a raise or negotiating a first salary, and not have any problem doing it at all,” says Margaret Anderson Kelliher, president of the Minnesota High Tech Association. “Women are much more hesitant to negotiate on behalf of themselves. However, they are fabulous negotiators on behalf of a team.”

Managers who aren’t paying attention could be inadvertently contributing to the gender pay gap, Kelliher says. Another piece of the gap could be the isolation that women programmers and engineers face in school and in the office.

“When you’re isolated, that can lead to dropping out of the field and can also lead to not knowing your value as an employee,” she says.

Pallavi Sharma, project manager at Xcel Energy and a video producer for Girls in Tech Minneapolis, says that even though she's had doubts in the past about whether bosses paid her as much as she deserved, equal pay is really a work in progress, subject to a fluid equation of factors.

"And honestly, for my own sanity, I try not to dig into it too much what other people are making and what I should be making," Sharma says. "Pay is an important element, but it’s not the most important. It’s what type of work I’m doing, what team I’m on, what sort of people I’m working with and how it adds to my own personal career."

These days, companies offer different incentives that could mean different things for different people, she adds. If a working woman trades a higher salary for more work from home days or time off, that's her prerogative.

"I truly think that at the end of the day, women are more focused around doing a really good job and getting personal satisfaction, rather than running behind a certain figure they should be making."