Kansas City ranks second among best cities for women in tech

Kansas City is the second best city in the U.S. for women in technology, according to rankings compiled by the technology financial company SmartAsset.

It’s the second straight year for Kansas City at No. 2, thanks to pay equity in the tech sector and a higher-than-average percentage of women in the tech workforce.

Jennifer Wadella, who started and leads the Kansas City Women in Technology organization, said Friday, “I love that Kansas City is at the top of the list; I do think many of the employers in our area care about their tech employees, care about diversifying their workforce, and absolutely advocate for equal pay.”

Washington, D.C., topped the list, and Detroit, Baltimore and Indianapolis followed Kansas City in the top five.

Besides average adjusted salaries, pay equity and workforce percentages, the ranking formula considered each city’s growth in overall tech jobs. That was Kansas City’s weak point, with tech jobs shrinking by 3 percent, versus a national average increase of 8 percent.

Kansas City pay, adjusted for housing costs, averaged $57,219 for women, the study said, less than the national average of $58,503. Not considering housing, the study said, median pay for the area women was $67,587, about $500 more than the median for area men.

The survey also said women make up 33.6 percent of the city’s tech workforce of “computer and mathematics” jobs, up slightly from a year ago. Among other top cities, only Washington, Detroit and New Orleans did better than Kansas City in that category.

That area statistic, though well ahead of the national average of 26.5 percent, is still far from parity. And Wadella said she knows there are firms with one or two women on a staff of 50 or 60.

To help change that, several area efforts encourage women in the field and encourage girls and young women to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Wadella’s group, which just celebrated its third anniversary, organizes and offers coding classes, mentoring and networking events, and she said the sessions routinely sell out. The organization has grown to more than 320 women members and has a mentor list of more than 60 women, Wadella said.

More than 500 people have attended its events focused for women, she said, such as Coding & Cocktails. A similar mother-daughter program is called Coding & Cupcakes.

Also for students, the CoderDojoKC is open to everyone and usually draws 33 to 40 percent girls, she said. More than 650 youngsters have attended at least one session, she said, and it has more than 170 mentors, male and female.

“We’re in a good spot,” Wadella said. “People are excited. People are engaged. We have repeat attendees.”

Greg Hack: 816-234-4439, @GregHack