Some IT problems are easier to solve than others. And some might be downright impossible, like this letter:

Dear WTF, I am a female web developer. That’s not the WTF. I’m honestly worried that I really am making only 71% of what my male co-workers are making. How can I know if this is true?

-BH

The paygap is very much real, which means I have bad news: It’s statistically likely that you’re getting paid less than your male peers. In IT, the ratio is closer to 75%. In addition, you won’t exactly get much support when considering an IT career, and conferences won’t feel welcoming. IT has a serious bias problem.

It is getting better- women between the ages of 20 and 24 make about 93% of what men make for the same job. Maybe the next generation of workers won’t have this problem. In any case, these numbers are statistical averages, and that means that we can’t really apply that to your specific case. Maybe you’re an outlier. How can we find out?

The only practical answer is that you could ask your co-workers what they make. Most employers frown on that, and your co-workers may find it an offensive question. There would definitely be fall-out from that question, so you have to decide if knowing the answer is truly worth the risks. If you like your job and want to stay there, it probably isn’t. If you have a Lawful Good alignment and absolutely must enforce justice and fairness no matter what- then fire away.

The real core of your question is this: “Is my salary fair?” That’s a question everybody asks at some point, regardless of their gender. And most of the time, the answer is “No”. That co-worker isn’t skilled but is a great interviewer. That co-worker came in when the company was desperate to fill a slot and negotiated high. That co-worker plays golf with the right people. The boss just likes that one over there, for no reason you can fathom. If you believe that salary should be a meritocracy based on your skills and value, you’re going to be sorely disappointed in the real-world.

One of my co-workers recently discovered he was working for far less than many of his peers. He was looking to change positions in the company, and when his new department looked at his salary, they adjusted upwards so that he’s now making market rate. He wasn’t upset by being short-changed, and not just because he got a nice raise. Why not? “I like having more money, but I was making enough before.”

If you spend your life peeking at other people’s paychecks, you’re never going to be satisfied. On a purely personal level, you need to focus more on whether or not you’re making enough for you. If you’re satisfied with your income, if you can support the kind of lifestyle you want to support and maybe save up a little for the future, that’s great. If you’re not- then that’s a small-scale, personal problem that you can take steps to correct.

I don’t want to say you should close your eyes and settle, BH. People who settle end up blowing out the candles on a retirement cake iced with regret. Figure out what you’re worth, and demand that in return. Don’t let anyone cheat you out of that. Life is far too short for that.