Women In The Consulting Industry

We support organizations such as Kansas City Women in Technology, a new collective which aims to get more young women involved in IT and enable those already in the industry to advance their careers. The group also provides mentoring for several eager women in technology.

Women can define their own values and either start or advance their IT careers quicker and easier than ever before. Two of the most surprising stats around women working in the consulting industry either as employees or owners of their own consulting businesses are:

  • 54% of women in IT left the industry in the last 10 years
  • Women get paid 10 to 12 percent less than men in IT consulting

We aim to counter stats like these and start to change the tide to move in a different direction with our day-to-day experiences with students and customers in our consulting training business. We also realize that women often get paid less in consulting positions because they ask for less money. That’s right – they’re not getting paid less than men for equivalent consultant roles because the companies are discriminating, but because they’re actually asking for lower compensation! This is one of the main reasons so many women are getting out of consulting – it’s not worthwhile to stay in underpaid positions. It is also encouraging more women to look into how to start your own consulting business (so they can control their own compensation) which we think is a huge positive.

So why are women getting themselves a raw deal? We think there are several factors involved. First, women often act like they’re lucky to be considered for a consulting position, and should approach negotiating as such. It’s good to be grateful, but I wish women would erase the word “lucky” from their vocabulary when it comes to employment. You’re being considered for a job because you’ve worked hard, you’re talented and you deserve it. It’s not luck.

We also find that women are often worried that they won’t get a higher number, or feel like they don’t fit EVERY aspect of the job therefore they don’t want to risk losing the offer. Knowing what you are capable of is as important as understanding what you can do at this very moment. Male counterparts don’t often hesitate in negotiating higher salaries for roles they know they still have to ‘figure out’. Most women however, feel that if they work hard, prove themselves, and show what they can do, someone will take notice and reward them for it. Simply put: that is a road to nowhere!

This research led us to come up with four principles for training customers, which also apply to anyone who’s looking to negotiate a consulting role from a strong position:

  1. Be confident – you are brilliant- believe it!
  2. Be knowledgeable – know the market place, understand what you should be earning in the form of dollars/vacation/title.
  3. Be persistent – Sometime you have to be as tough as nails but as warm as toast… but don’t quit!
  4. Be ready to walk – be prepared to answer every response to your request. And if its not a just one, then walk.

What it comes down to is simple: knowing your value, being able to explain it and not settling for less than you’re worth. If more women go in with a strong stance, then we’ll help overcome the salary gender bias and keep more women in IT. 

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