Seattle skyline (Photo: Angela N.)
Seattle skyline (Photo: Angela N.)

While Seattle ranks second in the nation for women entrepreneurs, the gender wage gap in the Emerald City is another story.

A new study is out that shows Seattle having the largest wage gap between men and women among the 50 major cities in the country.

The study, performed by the National Partnership for Women & Families, found that on average, women in Seattle make 73 cents for every dollar earned by males, meaning the average woman here makes $16,346 less than the average man every year.

Washington Senator Patty Murray made a statement today, which marks the annual Equal Pay Day that represents how the average woman needs 464 days to earn what a man makes in just 365 days.

genderwage1“But today isn’t just about women. And it’s not just about fairness. It’s about the economy,” Murray said in a statement. “And unfortunately, a recent study shows women in the Seattle area have it the hardest, suffering from the largest gender pay gap in the United States, meaning women have less money to put food on the table, stay in their homes, build a nest egg for retirement, and help pay for their children’s education.”

The study claims that women who are employed full time in the Seattle area lose approximately $7,894,987,232 as a group each year due to the wage gap, while about 23 percent of the 141,949 households in Seattle that are headed by women have incomes that fall below the poverty level.

Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Detroit followed Seattle with the largest wage gaps. Boston came in 17th, while Portland was in 20th. Los Angeles, meanwhile, had the smallest gap with just eight cents separating the average wages between men and women.

On average nationally, women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. That’s been helped by the 1963 Equal Pay Act, but at less than a half cent per year.

The study noted that if that wage gap were closed, a full-time working woman could pay for food for 1.7 more years, afford 3,000-plus more gallons of gas and seven months of mortgage and utilities. The study encourages Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The tech and startup industry is certainly dominated by men. However, there are definitely some notable female entrepreneurs in the area: Mary Jesse at Ivy, Liz Pearce at LiquidPlanner, Jane Park at Julep and Christina Lomasney at Modumetal, just to name a few.

Participants at the Startup Weekend Women's Edition. Photo: Kyle Kesterson
Participants at the Startup Weekend Women’s Edition. Photo: Kyle Kesterson

The picture to the right is from Startup Weekend Women’s Edition, an event hosted last summer by Julie Sandler of Madrona Venture Group and Shauna Causey of It marked the first time that a female-oriented hackathon was held in Seattle. Of the 90 participants, 75 percent were women.

Most of the women said that they were inspired by the event, saying that they would participate at future Startup Weekends. Adriana Moscatelli, a user experience designer who led the gaming upstart Pink Matrix Labs, said she made some fantastic connections during the event.

“In our daily work, we spend all day around guys,” said Moscatelli. “It was such a unique opportunity to spend time around so many smart, engaging and geeky women.”

GeekWire columnist Monica Guzman wondered if it was discriminatory to host an event that limits the participation of one group in favor of another.

“Is this a healthy event for our startup climate, or a flawed one?” Guzman asked.

You can check out Guzman’s column and all the interesting reader comments here.

Previously on GeekWireWomen in tech: Is Startup Weekend Women’s Edition fantastic or flawed?

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  • Benjamin Lukoff

    Would like to see the wage gap broken down by industry and profession…

  • mrtrantastic

    The disparity exists due to the heavy weighted tech jobs in the Seattle environment and men being primarily in that field. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Bungie, Valve, PopCapGames, Big Fish Games, etc. all these really large and small tech companies who pay really high salaries or wages.

    Though, this is changing as more women are getting more interested in STEM degrees/programs at the college level. However, they need to be reached at in the high school level to really begin carving their path.

    It is to note that women and men on equal job standings => women are indeed getting paid equal or higher than men of same skill. It’s particularly these Software Development Engineers (SDEs) coming in at these companies around $75k starting + bonuses, and in a few years getting to $92-100k+ that skews these numbers. Men and women have equal skill, and are indeed paid equally in such fields… it’s just not as many women going into those fields

  • Tony Wright

    We’ll make more headway if we spend less time spinning numbers. Articles like this make it seem like evil fatcat bosses are underpaying women. That DOES happen. But the real problem we need to tackle is “Why are women making different education and career choices than man?”

    Some other interesting bits of data:

    Workplace Salaries: At Last, Women on Top,8599,2015274,00.html

    To account for (much of) the current disparity:

    Report commissioned by the dept of labor here:

    • Skunky Pete

      I agree – this study really leaves out a lot of supporting information. Actually the way it’s presented sucks. Are we comparing identical school-for-school, job-for-job, year-for-year experience here, or just making a blanket statement that “hey girls make less than boys!” If that’s the case, naturally one has to bring up the fact that women are vastly more likely to CHOOSE to spend time (several years) out of work to raise children. I’d like to see a study conducted with a more rigid set of controls.

      • missdk

        There are tons of studies that address exactly what you’re looking for. Try WEPAN as a starting point.

  • Hakon Verespej

    I strongly agree with Tony about focusing on root causes, though I do appreciate raising awareness of such issues.

    I was a participant in the women’s Startup Weekend (they opened 15% of spots for men if a woman invited them) and it was a great opportunity to experience what I imagine most women feel at male-dominated events. Hard to imagine dealing with that every day. I’m assuming correlation here, but what seems to have been a very positive outcome of the event was that the subsequent “normal” Startup Weekend had an uptick in the number of female participants and if I recall, the number of teams lead by women was a little over 50%.

    I imagine it will be years before we make significant progress on these issues, but in the meantime, we should all be making an effort to encourage and inspire young women (and all children, for that matter) to consider STEM careers and entrepreneurship. We should also make sure we are creating a positive, inviting environment for all participants in our community regardless of gender, etc.

  • Josh Mahar

    Interesting stuff but got to agree with other folks here. Probably some of it has to do with the heavy tech sector, which is dominated by men. Of course, changing that should undoubtedly be a priority.

    It also seems noteworthy that you see Portland with the lowest wage gap, but that may not be because women are actually getting more equal salaries, but rather that most jobs are just paid less, making average pay more equivalent to the women-heavy sectors, such as education.

  • fred whittlesey

    The purported “gender gap” is in the news about once a month and the stories are completely erroneous. The reasons for any perceived or measured difference in pay between males and females are well-documented. When you choose lower paying fields, work less,have large gaps in career, and seek lower risk and more flexible environments that provide more intangible compensation, then you are paid less – by choice. These so-called “studies” are usually conducted by groups formed for the purpose of finding gender discrimination and are not objective.

  • estrogen infusion

    Kudos to GeekWire for running this study, but seems a bit ironic it was written by a man and the first 7 comments were from men. Perhaps we have a larger societal problem. Sad state of affairs that no women were nominated for hire of the year for the GW Awards. Possible that this male-dominated tech startup community is a bit of an echo chamber and doesn’t recognize talent when it sees it? Thankfully two women were nominated for geek of the year, but c’mon GeekWire and readership. Be the change you see in the world.

  • sactoresident

    the “wage gap” is mostly a PC distortion of facts – do a real report and find an employer paying women 25% for the same position and skill – you can’t. it is distorted because a small percent of men have very high “ceo or law firm partner” wages.

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