Privacy profession: An equal playing field for men and women?

In the midst of the public debate around the lingering gender gap in salary and professional achievement, the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) revealed that in the privacy and data governance fields, women are similarly compensated and reach similar career heights as men. In fact, the single most predictive indicator for salary and achievement is professional certification.


The survey, which looked at 1,253 privacy professionals around the world, found the privacy field to be evenly split 50-50 between male and female professionals. The salary figures also demonstrated an even split with female privacy professionals making nearly equal pay to men.

In the U.S., men in the privacy profession were paid a median annual salary of $130,000, compared to women who were paid $125,000. For privacy professionals in Europe, women were found to have a higher median salary than men, with men being paid a median annual salary of $92,600, and women being paid $100,100.

The slight pay gap between male and female privacy professionals in the U.S. lessens for those professionals who obtain a certification. The survey showed among certified professionals, men made a median salary of $135,000 compared to $132,500 for women.

In the U.S. women and men were also found to have similar titles and positions in their firms. In fact, women are 33% more likely to have a seat in the C-suite than men. Women were almost identical to men in the likelihood of holding a VP- level position (slightly less likely), legal counsel-level position (slightly more likely) and director-level position (even).

Female and male privacy professionals had similar levels of experience in privacy as well. In fact, although salary levels were comparative, women in the privacy field were found to have slightly less experience than men in the profession, with 39 percent of women having less than five years, compared to only 35 percent for men.

For the 15 percent who had more than 15 years of experience, a salary gap opened up, with men making an average of $181,000 compared to $156,300 for women. Additionally, only 25 percent of women privacy professionals held a master’s degree compared to 39 percent of their male counterparts.

“A career in privacy places you at the forefront of shaping and defining how technology will impact our daily lives. Diverse voices are needed in this debate and it’s exciting to see so many women excel in the field,” said Nuala O’Connor, President and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology.

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