Report: Milwaukee ranks 43rd for best U.S. cities for women in tech

Last updated on March 9th, 2021 at 11:24 am

Milwaukee ranked 43rd in a tie with Denver for “best U.S. cities for women in tech” this year, up from 46th in 2020, according to a study from SmartAsset, a New York-based personal finance technology company. 

Women compose 28% of Milwaukee’s tech workforce, which is approximately 1% less than last year and 2% higher than the national average – Milwaukee ranks 17th in this metric.  Detroit is the most gender-balanced tech city in the U.S. with women composing about 44% of its tech workforce, according to the study. 

The only other Wisconsin city in the report is Madison, which dropped from 56th to 59th on the list. 

Now in its seventh year, the SmartAsset study considers four different factors: gender pay gap, income after housing costs, women’s representation in the tech workforce and three-year tech employment growth.

SmartAsset’s 2021 study added seven new cities and dropped three cities from last year’s study. A direct comparison between 2021 and 2020 versions of the study cannot be made since the study’s data and methodology have been modified.

By the numbers:

Milwaukee 

  • Gender pay gap: 84%
    • Milwaukee ranks 32nd
    • On average, women in tech in Milwaukee earn 84 cents for every dollar that their male co-workers in tech make. 
    • National average 83%
  • Income after housing costs: $43,483
    • 11th lowest income out of 63 cities
    • Women in tech in Milwaukee earn a median income of $43,483 after deducting the city’s median annual housing costs ($10,776). 
    • National average: $57,509
  • Women as a percentage of the tech workforce: 28.3%
    • Milwaukee 17th for representation of women in the tech workforce
    • National average: 26.1%
  • Three-year tech employment growth: 15%
    • Milwaukee ranks 52nd
    • National average: 17%

Madison

  • Gender pay gap: 80%
    • Madison ranks 45th
    • On average, women in tech in Madison earn 80 cents for every dollar that their male co-workers in tech make.
    • National average 83%
  • Income after housing costs: $43,974
    • 8th lowest income out of 63 cities
    • Women in tech in Madison earn a median income of $43,974 after deducting the city’s median annual housing costs ($14,940). 
    • National average: $57,509
  • Women as a percentage of the tech workforce: 22.8%
    • Madison ranks 56th for representation of women in the tech workforce
    • National average: 26.1%
  • Three-year tech employment growth: 24%
    • Madison ranks 22nd 
    • National average: 17%

The study also found that tech opportunities are moving outside of California and Silicon Valley in particular. Only two California cities rank in the top 15 and neither of those are located in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to the study. 

Women in tech continue to face a large gap in pay with women making 83 cents for every dollar that is earned by their male counterparts. Salt Lake City, Utah has the worst pay gap on the list – women in the tech workforce there make only 68% of what men get. Long Beach, California is the only city in the study where women in tech earn slightly more than men – making $1.01 for every dollar that their male tech peers get, according to the report. 

To find the best cities for women in tech, SmartAsset looked at data for cities that had at least 200,000 residents in 2019 according to Census Bureau data, according to a SmartAsset spokesperson.

 “We removed cities from our data set that did not have statistically reliable data (i.e. the margin of error for average earnings for women who work in tech or the number of women working in tech was greater than 20%). Those two constraints left us with 63 cities,” the study states.

Based on two criteria outlined above, SmartAsset was able to consider 59 cities in last year’s edition of this study. Of those 59 cities, three did not meet the criteria for the 2021 study including Des Moines, Iowa; Mesa, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada. Seven new cities, however, fit the criteria for this year including Frisco, Texas;  New Orleans, Louisiana; Cleveland, Ohio; Boise, Indiana; Honolulu, Hawaii; St. Paul, Minnesota and Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Brandon Anderegg
Brandon covers startups, technology, manufacturing. He previously worked as a general assignment and court reporter for The Freeman in Waukesha. Brandon graduated from UW-Milwaukee’s journalism, advertising and media studies program with an emphasis in journalism. He enjoys live music, playing guitar and loves to hacky sack.

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