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The Gender Pay Gap in Online Marketing

By Han | 9th Aug 2013 | Posted in Marketing

This year Render Positive was once again asked to analyse and present the salary survey data collected at April’s BrightonSEO conference – scroll down to see the full infographic.

As someone who knows the data better than most by now, I’d like to elaborate a little on some of the conclusions I drew, and in particular look into the issue of gender equality.


The Gender Pay Gap in Online MarketingFirstly, it is important to note a couple of things: with 304 participants, the results have a 5.7% margin of error. 181 of those gave their gender, which means that the margin for error when calculating findings relating to gender is significant, at 7.4%. These figures therefore need to be read with this in mind, although their consistency (that men earn more) does indicate that there is certainly something here worth further investigation.

Additionally, the averages used for the infographic itself were calculated as the mean. As I had already removed the handful of anomalies before I began, these averages weren’t particularly swayed by extremes; as I dive into the median figures below you’ll see that although the figures are slightly different, the conclusions are still the same.

The Guardian Datablog’s post on the ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (published November 2012) has shown that the gender pay gap fell by 10.5% to 9.6% in 2012. Our data here shows that the median salary across all participants is £30,000. For women, this is £25,000, while for men it is £31,250: a difference of 20%.

This puts us in the bottom quarter of professions in terms of gender equality in pay according to the ONS survey, which included 329 professions with figures for both men and women (and 165 professions with incomplete data, which I have ignored here).

As an industry, we are on a par with HR managers and directors (20.8%), road transport drivers (20.7%), marketing associate professionals (20.6%), teaching and education professions n.e.c (20%), and sales accounts and business development managers (19.3%), among others.

Interestingly, the SEO industry is a little fairer than sales, marketing, and related associate professionals (23.9%) and advertising accounts managers and creative directors (22.9%), although put to shame by media professionals (8.2%) and web design and development professionals (1%).

It seems that, despite being as new an industry as web design, we are instead taking our cues from traditional advertising and marketing companies. Furthermore, according to the BrightonSEO data, women are less satisfied with their pay than men – they are not oblivious to the problem.

Some other factors also need to be taken into consideration, however. As @dkoblintz pointed out:

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 11.57.09

With 53 women and 128 men (and 123 undisclosed), it’s entirely possible also that there were simply more men who attended the conference, or who wanted to respond to the survey. Whatever the possible other reasons for this discrepancy, I don’t think anyone could argue that the best way to find more definitive answers would be to learn from this next time, and strive to use a much larger sample.

This would also enable us to properly isolate experience, location, and job role from gender too, which simply wasn’t possible to do reliably with the limited number of responses this time around.


According to the Hudson Marketing & Communications Salary & Employment Insights Guide 2013, the most sought-after benefits are: bonus and recognition (86%), flexible working arrangements (65%), contributory pension plan (54%), increased annual leave (48%), and health benefits (39%).

With the exception of office beer and food, the most commonly received benefits among the BrightonSEO respondents were a conference budget (34%), pension (33%), and training budget (28%). According to Hudson, 34% of employees rated training benefits in their top 5.

Hudson conclude that “stable jobs with flexible benefits are a key priority for employees rather than ever-increasing salaries”, as budgets remain tight and employees take on more responsibility, despite the fact that 86% listed a better salary in their top 5 reasons why they would be attracted to a job (extra benefits came in fourth at 37%, behind work/life balance at 74% and convenient location at 61%).

Hopefully, this years’ insights can help to inform future salary surveys within our industry, and highlight how important a study this is.  Many thanks indeed to Kelvin at BrightonSEO for organising the survey, and giving us the opportunity to present it.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on these conclusions – were you surprised about the gender divide? Or was the sample size too small to really be sure? Let me know in the comments.

Click the image for the full-size version, and don’t forget to share it on Twitter!


BrightonSEO Salary Survey 2013

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