There’s been much written lately about the dearth of women in technology, and about the droves of women who are leaving tech companies. Much of the conversation has centered around Silicon Valley startups, given their reputation as the source of hot new technology.
But some new research from SmartAsset, which draws on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, shows that if you’re a woman working in tech, Silicon Valley really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For women, the hotbed of tech innovation is more likely to be New York, where the sheer number of women working in tech is three times that of Silicon Valley. And while women face a substantial pay gap compared with men in Silicon Valley, there are two other major metro areas where women working in tech actually get paid more, on average, then their male colleagues.
To figure out which cities are the best for women working in tech, SmartAssets ranked cities based on the percentage of the tech industry that is made up of women, the gender pay gap in tech in each city, the average wage for women in tech minus the cost of housing (to account for cost of living), and the three-year employment growth for women in tech.
In no city do women make up more than 37 percent of the tech workforce. But women in tech have it a whole lot better in cities such as Washington, D.C.—the top-rated city—than they do in any West Coast city. In two cities, women in tech, on average, actually get paid more than their male colleagues.
SmartAsset has not done a study on best cities for men in tech, but they did do a study of best cities for tech workers overall. Omaha, Nebraska, topped that list, followed by Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The best city for women in tech, according to the research, is Washington, D.C. In the nation’s capital, about 37 percent of tech jobs are filled by women—compared with a national average of about 25 percent—and women in tech, on average, earn 93.3 percent of what men do. Perhaps that’s not hugely surprising, given that an analysis of the Inc. 5000 showed Washington, D.C., to be the best city for women entrepreneurs.
In the second-ranked city, Kansas City, Missouri, women make up about 33 percent of the tech workforce and on average make 106.6 percent of what the guys do. Women in tech outearn the men in Arlington, Texas, too, and by a hefty margin: 107.4 percent. Arlington is ranked 15th.
So what is going on in Silicon Valley, the supposed tech epicenter of the U.S.? In San Jose, California, which ranks 11th, women make up only 23 percent of the tech workforce and make 86.4 percent of what men do. In San Francisco, 21 percent of the tech workforce is female and women earn about 88 percent of what the guys do.
That means the highest-ranked city in California, with an impressive third-place finish, is Fremont, where women in tech get paid 86.7 percent of what men do. Like Washington, D.C., Fremont owes its high ranking partly to the fact that three-year job growth for women in tech has been heady: 44 percent in Fremont and 49 percent in D.C.
Other cities in the Top 10: Houston; New York; Tucson, Arizona; New Orleans; Milwaukee; Philadelphia; and Plano, Texas.
Another interesting finding: While Silicon Valley may be the seat of all things tech, in raw numbers, there are more women working in tech in New York than in the Valley. There are about 22,000 women in tech in New York city while no other city has more than 10,000 women working in tech. That may be one reason New York women make 95.6 percent of what New York men do—better networking opportunities.
I am sure there are a million explanations for these disparities, and for the fact that Silicon Valley and San Francisco both ranked relatively poorly in the study. Some of these explanations may even be totally reasonable and legitimate. But seriously. Move to Kansas City.