March 8, 2023

Gender pay gap widest at early-stage European startups

But are things getting better?

Ravio founder Raymond Siems (centre left) with team members Julia Frey, Florence Morten, Merten Wulfert (from left)

Women are still paid less than men at European tech companies across the board — but the situation is worst at early-stage startups.

That’s according to data from salary benchmarking platform Ravio, which compared more than 22k salaries at 400 European tech companies in an analysis for Sifted. 

  • At pre-seed, seed and Series A startups, women are paid 75p for every £1 men earn 
  • At companies that have raised a round at Series B or beyond, women are paid a slightly better 79p for every £1 men earn 
  • At post-IPO companies women earn 86p for every £1 men earn

To put those numbers into context, the pay gap across the EU is 10.6% — meaning women are paid 89.4p for every £1 their male counterparts make. While the gender pay gap doesn’t necessarily mean companies are paying men and women differently for the same role — which is illegal — it suggests fewer women in high-paid jobs.


The findings are not unique. Last year, a Sifted and salary benchmarking platform Figures analysis of 317 UK startups with fewer than 200 employees found that the gender pay gap was the same as the national average in the UK 30 years ago.

Sifted and Ravio also looked into which countries and departments have the widest gaps, and how the situation has changed over time.

Which countries have the worst gender pay gap?

Of the countries for which Ravio had more than 500 roles to compare, Germany had the widest pay gap, with women tech workers in the country earning 74p for every £1 men do. Things aren’t much better at startups in the UK and Spain, where women are paid 75p for every £1 men earn.

In some other European countries — where Ravio has fewer data points — the situation is worse. While the data is less representative of the tech ecosystem as a whole, it still paints an ugly picture. 

  • In Italy the pay gap is 40%, comparing 143 roles;
  • It’s 41% in the Czech Republic, comparing 228 roles;
  • It’s 47% in Portugal, comparing 181 roles.

Every startup department has a gender pay gap

While finance teams have the widest gender pay gap, the gap is still significant in departments tracked by Ravio which are majority women — like people, operations and marketing.

Data and engineering teams had the lowest proportion of women. Just 15% of data roles are held by women and three quarters of engineering roles are filled by men.

Things are (slowly) improving

While European tech companies have made improvements over the past six years, the startup gender pay gap is still considerably wider than the broader pay gap across the EU.

There are signs the gender pay gap is continuing to shrink — albeit slowly. According to Ravio, there's an 18% gender pay gap across the 1,354 new hire salaries the platform has collected so far in 2023.

It's a step in the right direction, but there's a long way to go to reach anything like pay parity on the European startup scene.

Kai Nicol-Schwarz

Kai Nicol-Schwarz is a reporter at Sifted. He covers UK tech and healthtech, and can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn