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The Privacy Advisor | Privacy: An Equal Playing Field for Women and Men Related reading: Privacy: A Level Playing Field for Women and Men



In the midst of the public debate around the lingering gender gap in places like Fortune 1000 C-suite positions and the technology industry, our 2015 IAPP Salary Survey results show that, in privacy and data governance, women occupy similarly senior positions and earn roughly as much as men.

The results, from a survey of more than 1,300 privacy professionals around the world, demonstrate a 50-50 split in raw numbers between women and men. For privacy professionals, salary figures too are equal, with men in the United States reporting a median salary of $130,000 and women $125,000, and women in the EU reporting a median salary of $100,100 vs. $92,600 for men.

The slight remaining pay gap between men and women in the U.S. is virtually wiped out for professionals who obtain IAPP certification. Among certified professionals, men make a median salary of $135,000 compared to $132,500 for women.

Gender parity is evident not only in placement and pay but also in privacy job titles. Women are almost identical to men in the likelihood of holding a C-level position (slightly more likely), VP-level position (slightly less likely), legal counsel-level position (slightly more likely) or director-level position (even).

This animated infographic gives you the full breakdown. 

Suggesting lingering historical imbalances, the data shows that on average, women have slightly less experience in the profession, with 39 percent reporting less than five years compared to only 35 percent for men; this, despite women professionals being one year older on average. Looking at the 15 percent of respondents who have more than 15 years of experience, a salary gap opens up with men making an average of $181,000 compared to $156,300 for women. In addition, only 25 percent of women privacy professionals hold a Master’s degree compared to 39 percent of their male counterparts.

The survey demonstrates that in a work environment on the cusp of the intersection of new technology and policy, women can fare as well as – or better – than men. Privacy, which combines skills from business, legal, technological and ethics, provides a level playing field for all professionals. All evidence indicates that position and salary are determined first and foremost by experience and merit.

To celebrate the meritorious nature of the privacy profession, the IAPP and Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) are putting on an event at the Decatur House, tonight, June 9, in Washington, DC, that will feature a panel discussion with Patrice Ettinger, CPO at Pfizer; Christine Frye, SVP and CPO at Bank of America; Hilary Wandall, AVP and Global Privacy Officer at Merck; and Erika Brown Lee, Chief Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer at the U.S. Dept. of Justice; moderated by Nuala O'Connor, head of the CDT.

At 4 p.m., they will discuss their career path in privacy, and the discussion will be followed by a networking event. Both are open to the public. 

For the full results of the 2015 IAPP Salary Survey, click here

Infographic – Privacy: A Level Playing Field for Women and Men

Want to peruse the stats in color and with animated graphs and charts? Then you should probably click here


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  • comment Caitlin • Jun 9, 2015
    A good indicator of how well women are doing in a field is when women themselves are writing these articles.
    Also a $17,000 gap is not insignificant (no certification).
    I've always been impressed at how many women I see in our field, and attending conferences like your Privacy Symposium in Toronto. I did a quick tally of how many of the presenters at the conference were women this year - 32, to I think 40 men (couldn't' be sure as I didn't attend them all and some of the names were androgynous). There were 3 male keynotes to 1 female. I liked the fact that you had women in the field meetings, but I definitely have some suggestions about how they could be more effective, if you would like to hear them.
    Anyway, some takeaways:
    Let women have their own voice in reporting on their own issues
    Don't just try and get women on panels - hire female keynote speakers and moderators (just like in the field we want to see women at all levels - entry to CPO)
    A themed networking break is a great idea, but it would be even more powerful to also include actual sessions moderated by women about their issues in the field - and there are lots of them.
    Glad to see the issue being discussed, thanks!
  • comment Sam • Jun 9, 2015
    Hi Caitlin - great feedback. Thanks so much. I'm hoping you also saw Sandy Hughes piece on this topic. Since I oversaw the survey, I wrote up the results, but we did, obviously, want to have a female voice announcing the results as well:
    Also, I want to note that while the $17k gap does look significant, I'd encourage you to examine the full gender report that's part of the full salary report. The conclusion is that experience, education, and industry are the highest correlated with salary and position. So that gap is less a result of gender and more a result of the make up of those folks who don't have certification (however, there may very well be latent gender issues in the experience and education of those not certified - that's harder to unpack). Further, I would note that the wage gap does show up in Canada, where 65 percent of privacy pros are women. That's a bit troubling. 
    Regardless, this is an area we are paying a great deal of attention to and we are working hard toward gender balance in our programming and publications. As one data point, I can let you know that while there were three men and one woman for our symposium keynotes, we paid the woman more than all three men combined!
    Sam Pfeifle, IAPP Publications Director
  • comment Caitlin • Jun 11, 2015
    Thanks for the response Sam! 
    I did see the Canadian survey first, which, along with the great new tumblr regarding women at conferences, was why I took a look at that symposium particularly. I definitely bragged to my friends that your organisation and our field is ahead of the curve. Work to do, but ahead of the curve for now! I will take a look at the article you linked to. Like I said, I'm just always happy to see the discussion happening.