Report: Milwaukee ranks 46th for best U.S. cities for women in tech

Downtown Milwaukee skyline
Downtown Milwaukee skyline. Photo by Shutterstock

Last updated on February 18th, 2020 at 12:23 pm

Milwaukee is once again positioned at the bottom of a list in a tech-related study – this time, the city ranks 46th for “best U.S. cities for women in tech,” according to SmartAsset, a New York-based personal finance technology company.

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

Women compose 29% of Milwaukee’s tech workforce, which is higher than the national average, but 10 percentage points behind Washington, D.C., which has the most gender-balanced tech workforce on the list.

Milwaukee is sixth in terms of income after housing cost at $41,212, which is $15,000 less than the national average, according to the study. The median ratio of earnings for Milwaukee women in tech also suggest they make 18 cents less on the dollar when compared to men, which is just below the national average.

“The one bright spot there, tech jobs filled by women at 29%, is above the national average of 26.1% and is 13th highest of the 59 cities included in our study,” said AJ Smith, SmartAsset vice president of financial education.

The one other Wisconsin city on the list is Madison, which is ranked 56th of the 59 U.S. cities listed. However, both cities have fallen significantly compared to past years, especially Milwaukee, which was ranked 8th in 2015.

“From a data standpoint, we have seen the gender pay gap (across the U.S.) has gotten worse,” Smith said. “That’s one area that’s really been hit hard and gone down over the last six years.”

Despite the city’s position on the list, there’s lot of momentum and effort towards building a diverse tech hub in Milwaukee, said Jennifer Ketz, co-founder of Lift Up MKE, a Milwaukee-based startup that retrains women returning to the tech workforce.

“We can do better,” Ketz said. “With us working on giving women a voice in technology and creating those safe communities, abilities to upskill and reskill, I think we have a chance to go up on that list.”

Many organizations around Wisconsin and in Milwaukee are also working towards building a more diverse tech workforce including Women in Technology Wisconsin, a non-profit organization that provides leadership development, technology education, networking and mentoring opportunities for women and girls.

Since the organization was founded in 2014, WIT Wisconsin has impacted 13,000 students and professionals in northeast and south-central Wisconsin. However, the organization is deploying its programs in southeast Wisconsin, the company recently announced.

“Milwaukee has made significant strides to position itself as the place for tech and start-up growth for 2020 and beyond,” said Adrienne Hartman, WIT president. “Milwaukee’s energy and the tech community’s goal to double the local tech workforce by 2025 is remarkable. We are glad to have WIT Wisconsin there to support that goal and to support the women of the region.”

By the numbers:

  • Gender Pay Gap: 82%
    • 18th-largest gap out of the 59 total cities in our study
    • National average: 83%
  • Income After Housing Costs: $41,212
    • 6th-lowest income out of the 59 total cities in our study
    • National average: $55,745
  • Tech Jobs Filled by Women: 29.3%
    • 13th-highest representation of women in the tech workforce out of the 59 total cities in our study
    • National average: 26.1%
  • Four-Year Tech Employment Growth: 14%
    • 14th-lowest tech employment growth out of the 59 total cities in our study
    • National average: 17%











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