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The meritocracy myth vs. the real gender pay gap

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The meritocracy myth vs. the real gender pay gap

One of the myths about the tech sector is that it’s a meritocracy, where people are primarily judged and rewarded on ability. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The gender pay gap is just one example. Women earn an average of 30% less than men in martech jobs at all levels, according to our Salary and Career Survey.

Unfortunately, this is in line with the IT sector overall, where women earn an average of 28.9% less than men, according to the U.S. Census. Of the 20 business sectors listed by the Census, IT has the eighth worst pay gap.

Pay is just one part of the issue. Another is the opportunity gap: Men are more likely to be promoted to the top levels of a company. Our survey found that while women hold 54% of all martech jobs, they are only 42% of the sector’s senior executives.

This is, of course, symptomatic of a much larger problem in our society — a problem we must address if we wish to remain economically competitive, says Dr. Lauren Tucker, CEO and founder of Do What Matters, an inclusion management consultancy.

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“There are a number of things that the tech industry needs to do to at least minimize this inequity,” said Dr. Tucker. “One of them is better hiring and advancement and promotion policies that follow the best practices. Those practices are out there and they’ve been out there for a long time. The challenge is we don’t follow best practices.”

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The result is what Dr. Tucker calls “opportunity hoarding.” This is when one person or a very small group of people are able to control the opportunities for career advancement. These can include training, project assignments, getting credit for work, mentoring, and much more. Opportunity hoarding is frequently the product of cronyism and nepotism.

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The “standards” smokescreen

This behavior is frequently hidden behind the rhetoric of “standards.”

“We tell ourselves mythologies that allow us to believe in the place that the world puts us,” said Dr. Tucker. “And the mythologies that a lot of tech bros tell themselves is that people like Elon Musk, like Zuckerberg, like Steve Jobs, that they’re geniuses, that they had standards that everybody needed. And if only people would hold to their standards.”

These myths argue that these “self-made men” accomplished all they did because of the high standards they held themselves and their subordinates to. This overlooks all the advantages and opportunities that Musk, Zuckerberg, Jobs and those like them had. For example, Musk comes from an incredibly wealthy family – who loaned him the money to start his own business and attended top-tier private schools. His wealth, much of which was earned through starting and selling his own companies, allowed him to purchase the right to be called “co-founder” of Tesla.

The missing champions

The “standards” myth perpetuates the demonstrably false idea that everyone has an equal start in life. It assumes we live in a world free of biases based on gender, skin color, sexual orientation, religion, income level, etc. 

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Because of that, “what I see is a lot of men just hiring other men that they’ve worked with from the same organizations,” said Dr. Tucker. “There are plenty of women that do not get the championship that their male counterparts get, which then just amplifies the pay gap, especially in technology. Having somebody that’s willing to put in the social capital, the political capital, and the financial capital to back your play makes the biggest difference in the world. This is why we see this pay gap persist even if we do all the right things at the beginning in hiring.”

The impact of that goes far beyond differences in pay.

“We’re still held prisoner by this 20th century thinking that is keeping us from being competitive globally,” she said. “We are really not getting it here. If you look at Western Europe, what’s really interesting is Western Europe has evolved. It has evolved beyond this issue around women’s equality. It’s evolved, on this issue, around the kinds of freedoms that we are supposed to, as a country, have as our ideal.”

Equality equals economic growth

As Dr. Tucker points out, much of the nation’s economic growth in the last 50 years has been driven by women’s increased participation in the labor force. For that economic improvement to continue, the nation will need women to be equal participants.

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“This is really about women’s empowerment,” Dr. Tucker said. “It’s about women’s freedom. We have to embrace this if this country’s economy is going to grow. And, quite frankly I believe as we think about how to grapple with inflation, we need the ideas and the creativity of all our citizens in order to overcome the challenges of the 21st century. We need that innovation and creativity that is grounded in the issues of this century, not the 20th century, not the 20th century where women in this country are still fighting for their quality.”

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About The Author

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for CBSNews.com, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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MARKETING

How clean, organized and actionable is your data?

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90% of marketers say their CDP doesn't meet current business needs

A customer data platform (CDP) centralizes an organization’s customer data, providing a single 360-view of each consumer that engages with the company. Yet there are still data-related considerations that organizations have to make beyond what the CDP does.

“[CDPs] were designed to fill a need – to enable a marketer to easily get to the data they need to create their segmentation and then go on and mark it from that point,” said George Corugedo, CTO of data management company Redpoint Global, at The MarTech Conference. “But the issue is that CDPs really don’t take care of the quality aspects of the data.”

Maintaining data quality also impacts segmentation, campaigns and privacy compliance challenges for marketing teams that use this data.

Data quality

The data in a CDP depends on the quality of where it came from. Therefore, an organization using a CDP must also consider the quality of the data sources and reference files used to build out the CDP.

“The inevitable question is going to be, how good is this data?” said Corugedo. “How much can I trust it to make a bold decision?”

This is something that has to be on every organization’s radar. For instance, when identity resolution is used, the issue depends on the quality of the third-party reference files. If they are provided by a telecommunications company or credit bureau as the data partner, those files might only be updated quarterly.

“It’s just not an optimal solution, but every single CDP on the market uses some form of reference file,” Corugedo stated.

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It’s up to the data scientists and other team members working within the organization to own the accuracy of these data sources.

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Read next: What is a CDP?

Segmentation and other actions

The quality of the data using specific reference files and sources will vary and will impact the confidence that marketers have in creating segments and using them when deploying campaigns.

Marketers have to make this decision at a granular level, based on the trustworthiness of data from a particular lineage.

“If they have a campaign that is reliant on suspect data, they can actually delay that campaign and say maybe we wait until that data gets refreshed,” said Corugedo.

Otherwise, marketers are just “spraying and praying.”

Using rules instead of lists

The advantage of having a CDP is unification of all data. But the data is being updated all the time. Instead of deploying campaigns based on a fixed list of customers, the use of rules to define segments allows marketers to update who they engage in the campaign.

“A list, as soon as it’s detached from the database, starts to decay because it doesn’t get any updates anymore,” Corugedo, adding that using lists takes longer to execute a campaign.

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Lower quality from data that isn’t updated can have serious implications for healthcare and other industries, where accuracy is essential. 

“Instead, rules are passed through the campaign just like they would be with a list, but those rules reevaluate every time there’s a decision point to make sure that only the qualified people get the particular content at that point,” Corugedo explained.


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Privacy and regulatory compliance

Maintaining data quality through a Redpoint Global dashboard, or a similar combination of tools and data personnel, will also help an organization manage privacy.

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The crucial point is that people on the team know where the data came from and how it’s being used in campaigns. The stakes for sending out relevant messaging are high. Privacy and compliance issues raise the bar even higher.

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If you’re using a CDP, you can save headaches and extra labor by using a tool that has compliance and privacy baked in, so to speak.

“What we’ve done is embrace some of this complexity and absorb it into the environment, so the marketer never even sees it,” said Corugedo. “What we do is with every implementation, we will implement a PII vault that keeps PII data super secure, and we can anonymize the marketing database.”

This way, personal information of individual customers (PII) is never violated.

“Marketers ultimately don’t necessarily need to have visibility to PII,” Corugedo explained “They like to see it for testing purposes and making sure that it looks right and everything, but the truth is we can do that in other ways without revealing PII.”

Having a handle on data quality adds to the confidence marketing teams have in creating segments and executing campaigns, and it can also help protect the customer’s privacy and guard against regulatory infringements.

Facts not fiction: Beyond the CDP from Third Door Media on Vimeo.

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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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