National Women’s History Month is a time for all of us to recognize and celebrate the women who have played such vital roles in human history. As a woman in martech, I’m especially grateful to all the women who have blazed trails in STEM and continue to do so today.
I thought about those women as I read Scott Brinker’s martech salary survey, the results of which were released on March 14. It’s definitely a good-news story for our profession, with average US salaries ranging from $64K at the entry level to $310K for senior VP and C-level.
But as Brinker points out, it’s not all good news—especially for women. To begin with, only one-third of respondents were female, suggesting that martech is still a male-dominated industry. Even more disappointing is the discovery than women earn less and are significantly less likely to be found in director-level positions or above. Only 19 percent of women earned a combined salary, bonus, and equity of $150,000 compared to 34 percent of men, and only 30 percent of women held director-level positions or above compared to 48 percent of men.
Clearly, martech is attracting fewer women than men, and those women who choose to make it a career are earning less and reaching top positions less often.
I have had a career in martech for almost as long as martech has been in existence, but I learned an important lesson about workplace inequality long before that.
I was 15 and working my very first summer job bagging groceries at the local supermarket. I was so proud to be earning my own money, but when I discovered that the boy bagging groceries next to me was earning 40 cents more per hour, my pride turned to anger. How dare they pay me less, just because I’m a girl?
As soon as my shift was over, I confronted my manager, demanding to know why I was being paid less for doing the exact same job. The response my manager gave has stuck with me ever since: “I paid him more because he asked for it.”
It stopped me in my tracks because it had never even occurred to me that I could ask for more.
From that moment on, I promised myself that I would make a point of asking for what I thought I was worth. I didn’t always get it, but I always asked. I got my share of no’s, but when just one person said yes, I was that much further along than I would have been if I didn’t ask.
We don’t have to be perfect. We can take a few more risks. We can be a little bolder. We can ask for more.
Studies have generally found that men are more likely to take risks. (Men are also far more likely to take stupid risks: an analysis of the data on Darwin Awards found that 88.7% of the “winners” were men.)
Maybe the reason is biological. Maybe it’s societal. Maybe it’s both. But women, for whatever reason, find it harder to take risks and give themselves permission to fail.
My agency is a Marketo services partner, and I have had the opportunity to hear the CEO, Steve Lucas, speak on a number of occasions. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard him say, “It’s not going to be perfect…” Marketo is a company that gives itself permission to take risks because being bold enables the company to move forward quickly and stay one step ahead of the pack.
As women in this fast-moving industry, we need to take a page from Marketo’s playbook. We don’t have to be perfect. We can take a few more risks. We can be a little bolder. We can ask for more.
For women in martech, there’s no better time to be bold. Your skills are in demand. As the technology grows more complex and the stacks grow taller, companies are desperate for martech talent. According to Mondo’s Martech Strategy Report (gated), 61 percent of businesses surveyed planned to increase their martech spend the following year, and 63 percent planned to hire more full-time and contract talent.
This is your time. So seize the opportunity. Ask for what you want. Ask for what you deserve.
And for those of us hiring, compensating, and promoting martech talent, let’s remember that we need all the talent we can get if martech is going to continue to evolve and thrive. We need to continue to challenge our own biases, because when we don’t recognize and support talented women, we don’t just hurt them, we prevent our entire industry from reaching its full potential. Martech doesn’t care who deploys it. So why should we?
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