Technology's problem with women continues this week, with Amazon reporting--unsurprisingly, and just as did Apple and eBay--that it is managed mostly by white men.

Plenty of companies have vowed to change their disturbing ratios, a goal that certainly wouldn't be harder to reach should there be equal pay for men and women. But a just-released report from a tech-recruiting website, based on its own data, illuminates that the pay gap between male and female engineers is not as great as another gap--one women applicants themselves are solely responsible for.

It's called the "Ask" gap.

Before explaining, it's worth noting the painfully obvious: In America, women still earn less than men for equivalent work. This appears to be the case in technology fields as well. (A recent American Association of University Women report found that women in engineering make 88 percent of what men do one year out of college, and women in computer and information sciences make 77 percent of what men do one year out of college).

When Hired.com--the talent-recruitment startup that crunched its own users' information to create this new report--analyzed tens of thousands of salary offers, it found that women in software engineering received salary offers on average 9 percent below comparable ones offered to men.

An improvement? Maybe. Abundant and clear evidence of continued gender discrimination? Seems so. But consider this shocker: Those same women asked for, on average, 13 percent less money than their male peers did.

In other words: companies are paying the genders more equally than women are asking them to.

"It definitely caught us off guard once we looked at the data," says Matt Mickiewicz, the co-founder and CEO of Hired.

Hired embarked upon the number-crunching of 1,400 tech-job applicants in the wake of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's comments in October (which were later withdrawn) that women need not proactively ask for raises, because they should have "faith in the system." Mickiewicz says a few of his colleagues grew interested in the fact that every tech giant--eBay, Google--had released a diversity report, but none had directly addressed whether they pay women equally to men. "And then, we realized we were sitting on a treasure trove of data," he said.

Hired's report, "Quantifying the Gender Gap in Tech," is the most specific study to date: While based on a small smaple size, it examines only the technology industry, and job offers made within it the past six months. In addition to illuminating the "ask gap," it found that for entry-level tech positions, male and female entry-level candidates both ask for and receive approximately equal compensation. It's only after years of experience that women ask for less money, and a salary chasm opens.

Entry-level candidates asked for a minimum of $99,000 overall; entry-level women asked for $96,000--not a statistically significant difference. But the rift between experienced men and women candidates is crystal clear--at least in "ask": Women asked for at least $112,000, which experienced men asked for at least $130,000.

Last year, a separate survey from Dice, a tech-jobs website, found very different results, including that women in tech are paid slightly less than men. But when equal levels of experience and education--and parallel job titles--were considered, the gender-pay gap disappeared, the survey's results seem to show.

Mickiewicz hopes the new Hired study will be taken as a call to action for other tech companies. "Let them dig into their own payroll data and show whether they are discriminating--whether it's intentionally or not," he says.

Published on: Nov 6, 2014