Is there a gender gap in SEO?

Nov 13, 2020 by
Is there a gender gap in SEO?

The gender gap is a conversation that has been dominating public discourse for years now and in many industries, there has been a great deal done to reduce or even get rid of it entirely.

In SEO it will be fairly obvious to anyone who has worked in the sector that it’s still an incredibly male-dominated industry. A recent list of the most influential SEOs in the world, for example, included 104 men to just 36 women.

The State of SEO 2020 Survey taken out by Moz earlier this year, meanwhile, found that men not only outnumbered women by more than 2-1 in SEO (68.4% to 29.3%), but that the gap has barely altered in the last five years. But how do we reflect on and close this gap, without succumbing to tokenism?

Mind the gap

Without getting into the even more complicated realms of race and ethnicity (that would require its own even more thorough examination), the gender gap is one that needs to be acknowledged, first and foremost.

For many of us, it’s an issue that sits on the periphery of our vision but, particularly in the UK, it should be one that is given the respect it’s deserved.

It’s not that way globally. Indeed, in Africa, SEO is almost an exact 50/50 and in Canada, female SEO pros make up 47.4% of the market. It’s also worth noting that there are more women working in specific fields of SEO than in others.

For example, there are twice as many women working as freelancers and as content experts and off-page experts. Men, meanwhile, are more likely to work in more technical roles and, as you would expect, it’s these roles that often offer the greatest pay.

Even though there are signs of progression, men who work in SEO still ask for and get on average 67% more pay than their female compatriots and unless we act now, this is unlikely to change much in the foreseeable future.

Closing the gap

The first thing to do is recognise the areas in which female SEOs are gaining greater traction, which is in specialist content and freelancing, both of which are areas on the rise in 2020.

It’s thought that many women have fallen into freelance work because they have found it harder to get hired by agencies than their male counterparts.

But freelance workers have a much greater degree of flexibility and in a post-COVID-19 world where remote working is becoming more the rule than the exception, the greater hold female SEOs have on that area of the market could prove a valuable foothold.

The real change, however, needs to be in what is expected in terms of payment because, in both agency and contract work, men are significantly more likely to price their services with monthly retainers than women (59.1% to 39.4%) rather than hourly prices, which are more commonly used to provide less money for more work.

Currently, project prices for men are 66.7% higher than they are for women and the only way we’re going to break this trend is to put more investment into training and mentoring and make the industry feel more open and welcome for women.

Silence only bolsters the status quo and it’s up to both male and female industry members to kick up a fuss and make a noise. Because nothing ever got sorted in silence!