The $10,000 Salary Gap for Women in Startups

Last Updated Feb 19, 2009 8:59 AM EST

Study after study has demonstrated salary gaps for female executives versus their male colleagues, especially in large companies. Now new research by Harvard Business School professor Noam Wasserman demonstrates that the pay gaps persist in startups, too -- although less so.

Looking at data on 2,200 executives from almost 480 private IT and life sciences ventures, Wasserman found that overall, men made $10,200 more than women. Women had their best chance of equal pay in the states of California and Massachusetts, and in early-stage ventures.

That number actually looks good compared to the 20 percent or more in gender-based pay inequalities found in larger organizations. Notes Wasserman: "Small, private ventures may indeed be a good place to escape the factors that cause wide gender gaps in large companies."
Read his post for more details. He encourages readers to offer their own opinions and analysis of the results, and is especially interested in why these gaps exist. Here's what one of his readers offered:

"Regarding the growing gender gap as companies mature, the obvious answer would be that early stage companies are meritocracies whereas mature companies are bureaucracies that reward factors other than performance which are biased against women."
From our female readers, what has been your experience with compensation in startups?
  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.