Skip to content

The State of Sysadmin: Women in IT

Rachel Bishop
Rachel Bishop|March 7, 2024
Women in IT
Women in IT

We recently released our annual State of Sysadmin report, highlighting the self-reported sentiments, concerns, and realities of sysadmins in the field. This year, more than 1,600 people took our survey. You can download the full State of Sysadmin report or check out our State of Sysadmin blog recap for the major highlights.

As we browsed through the data, we couldn’t help but wonder if notable differences exist between the men and women who took our survey. And with the timeliness of Women’s History Month in March, we decided to sift through the data and see how women and men differed in their responses.

A quick note before we get started: 1,625 people answered the question, “What is your gender?” Here’s how they answered that question:

  • 1,464 self-identified as men

  • 100 self-identified as women

  • 10 self-identified as other

  • 51 preferred not to say

That is to say that our sample size is small, as fewer women than men took our survey. (Does that women-to-men ratio highlight just how few women embark on an IT career? Maybe. According to Zippia, only 18 percent of sysadmins are women. Regardless, we’d love to see more women participate in next year’s survey.)

How to use this data

We carefully considered what we wanted readers to walk away with after reading this blog. We decided to simply state the facts from our survey responses so you can draw your own conclusions. However, we do hope that these statistics about women in IT will serve as conversation starters in your organization. To help, we’ll sprinkle in a few ideas on topics you might consider discussing with your colleagues.

The industries women in IT occupy

Because industries often inform other data points (e.g., sysadmin salaries in tech often differ from sysadmin salaries in education), we wanted to start by looking at the industries that women in IT occupy.

Most of our respondents — both women and men — report working in education. The second most occupied industry for women is public service (social service and government), while for men, it’s industrials.

In the below graphic, you can see how women answered this question in our survey.

Industry - women

Years of experience for women in IT

Again, this is a data point we chose to include because years of experience often shape how respondents answer other questions, such as those related to their salaries and roles.

Notably, more women than men — 78 percent and 73 percent, respectively — report having 10 or more years of experience. The second most common selection for women is three to five years of experience.

The graphic below details how women answered this question.

Years of experience - women

The roles of women in IT

We didn’t find any notable differences between women and men in terms of job titles. Women and men both report primarily being individual contributors, followed by managers, then executives, then freelancers or contractors.

In the below graphic, you can see how women respondents answered this question.

Roles - women

Conversation starters: The roles of women in IT

Here are a few questions about the roles of women in IT to start conversations within your organization.

The salaries of women in IT

Because salaries are so nuanced, we parsed this data in a few different ways. First, we looked at the percentages of men and women who report making salaries in the ranges we provided. Then, we went one step further and sorted the data by years of experience and industry.

General salaries

Most of our female respondents (80 percent) make between $50,000 and $150,000 per year. But let’s break it down further:

  • 27 percent made between $50,000 and $74,999 per year.

  • 29 percent make between $75,000 and $99,999 per year.

  • 24 percent make between $100,000 and $150,000 per year.

Interestingly, male respondents’ answers tied: 28 percent of men report earning between $75,000 and $99,999 or between $50,000 and $74,999.

Below is the raw data we collected for women and men, respectively.

Salary - women
Salary - men

We found one data point particularly interesting here. Note that 5 percent of men report earning $150,000 or more annually, while 3 percent of women report falling into the same salary band. However, our sample size for women was significantly smaller than the number of male participants — so fewer women overall are making that top salary range.

Conversation starters: Salaries in IT

  • Does your organization offer salary transparency?

  • How are salaries determined at your company? Are compensation packages explained in such a way that they make sense for employees?

  • Does your organization regularly evaluate employee salaries? Do those evaluations lead to salary adjustments or job leveling?

Salaries by years of experience

Of the men who earn more than $150,000, all of them have 10 or more years of experience. In contrast, the few women who do reach this salary have fewer years of experience. While 67 percent of women who earn $150,000 or more have 10 or more years of experience, 33 percent have between 6 and 9 years of experience.

One more data point made us cock a brow: Of the women who earn between $15,000 and $29,999, 100 percent of them have 10 or more years of experience. By contrast, of the men earning between $15,000 and $29,999, only 54 percent have 10 or more years of experience.

Salaries by industry

Finally, we wanted to break our data down by industry. We know most women who took our survey work in education, followed by a three-way tie in public service (social service and government); technology; and industrials (manufacturing, construction, etc.).

So, which industry do the top earners report working in? For women, industrials, apparently. Of the women who reported earning more than $150,000 per year, 100 percent of them work in this industry. For men, technology takes the lead. Of the male top earners, 29 percent report working in technology.

Career concerns for women in IT

The top three career concerns for men and women are the same: career growth, burnout, and workloads. But career growth tops women’s list of career concerns, while men are most worried about burnout.

Check out how women and men (respectively) responded to this question below.

Career concerns - women
Career concerns - men

Conversation starters: Career concerns 

  • Does your organization offer the psychological safety necessary to bring up career concerns?

  • Do employees have a way to anonymously provide feedback regarding their career concerns?

  • How are career concerns addressed? How often are they addressed?

IT skills women want to level up

We asked our survey respondents to select all the IT skills they wanted to tackle in the coming year. The most popular skills that women selected were PowerShell (56 percent), cybersecurity (54 percent), and automation (46 percent). More men are interested in learning more about cybersecurity (65 percent), but overall, their top three skill interests are the same as women’s.

Conversation starters: IT skills

  • Does your organization offer professional development opportunities?

  • Do managers give employees the necessary time to dedicate to career development?

Time-consuming IT tasks

We also asked respondents how time consuming their daily tasks were. Interestingly, help desk responsibilities ranked number one on the lists for both men and women, but more women (52 percent) than men (42 percent) reported that help desk tasks are very time consuming. Women and men both are least concerned about backup and disaster recovery planning. 

So...what now?

Although we presented this data without commentary, we know the gender gap for women in tech is still alive and well, including in IT. From salaries to behaviors, women are statistically treated differently than men in the workplace — and that’s gotta change. We hope these findings open the door for meaningful conversations in your workplace.

And if you’re a woman in IT, we sincerely hope you’ll consider participating in next year’s survey. We’d love to hear from you!

Rachel Bishop
Rachel Bishop

A professional writer turned cybersecurity nerd, Rachel enjoys making technical concepts accessible through writing. At this very moment, she’s likely playing a video game or getting lost in a good psychological thriller. She enjoys spending time with her husband (a former sysadmin now in cybersecurity) as well as her two cats and three birds.

Related articles