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Men still take lion's share of IT management salaries

ONS numbers undermine CMI findings

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Exclusive Number-crunchers at Britain's Office of National Statistics have trashed claims that women are earning more than men in IT management positions.

Women IT managers still earn less than men, ONS figures produced for The Register show. But their salaries are growing - and men's are starting to droop.

In September the Chartered Management Institute pulled the rug from beneath equality campaigners with a survey that showed women IT managers earning more than men for the first time.

The upshot was that either women were not the underdogs of the profession, as is widely claimed, or campaigners had succeeded in their mission and could hang up their hats.

As it turns out, the data was misleading and the CMI is at a loss to explain why.

The ONS has answered a Register request with an exclusive analysis of its labour force survey that shows equality campaigners still have work to do.

However, women's lot has improved considerably in the last twelve months. In 2004 women IT managers earned a whopping £14,500 less than men, the ONS data reveals.

In 2005 men earned £4,900 a year more than women. The gap was closed by the salaries of women in lower management positions, which jumped by nearly £200 a week in 2005, yet are still just short of men.

Senior women’s wage packets lagged men’s by £170 a week - or nearly £9,000 a year.

However, it appears that some of the increase in women's salaries has come out of men's pay packets. Men's salaries have decreased in both senior and junior management positions by an average of £50 a week.

The CMI's findings that women IT managers now earn more than men caused a bit of a stir among equality campaigners, so much so that Intellect, the IT industry association, held a special meeting of its Women in IT Forum this week to discuss the matter.

Gillian Arnold, Chairwoman of the Intellect Women in IT Forum, and a regional sales executive for IBM, said: "Anecdotally, it seemed we had an issue with pay within the industry, and clearly the private sector does not make pay scales as transparent as in the public sector."

"It's because of this that we decided to hold the conference...We were also interested in the views of the Chartered Institute of Management given their recent press coverage," she added.

The CMI found that women IT managers, averaged across all levels, earned £45,869 a year in 2005, which was £780 more than the average man.

A CMI spokesman speculated that there might be a level of management, perhaps middle management, in which women were earning considerably more than men and this had skewed the overall average. But he could not be sure because a breakdown was not available.

The crucial difference between the surveys appears to be the sample sizes. The CMI gathers its data from interviews with 21,000 people in 200 organisations across all sectors.

The labour force survey is based on a considerably larger sample of 56,000 households.

Elizabeth Pollitzer, chairwoman of Equalitec, an industry partnership that helps women in IT careers, was also sceptical of the CMI findings.

"One reason is that women take a career break and get paid less when they return," said.

"There should be a principle of equal pay for equal jobs,” said Pollitzer. “At present the problem is that its equal jobs and not equal pay."®

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