After reading an article about developer pay that Ben linked to this morning, I started wondering who is served by the taboo on salaries in this country.

It’s certainly not the same everywhere: there are countries where tax returns—and, hence, individuals’ salaries—are public knowledge, but the UK is not one of those.

As synchronicity has it, I walked into the kitchen at work to find today’s edition of the Times on the table, complete with a special pull-out section on the taboo surrounding salaries in the UK. (Intriguingly, and tellingly, they’ve catalogued it under ‘women’ on the website.)

I have a strong suspicion that secrecy exerts a downward pressure on pay, particularly in the case of women, who are, on average, scandalously badly paid relative to their male colleagues. Without evidence that you are underpaid relative to your colleagues, you must rely on bluff, braggadocio, and boldness—qualities found more often in the male of the species, I suspect.

According to the Guardian article mentioned earlier:

Pay for web developers has jumped 26% over the past 12 months, and they are among the most sought after IT professionals in the UK. The average hourly rate for web developers is £29, up from £23 this time last year, according to its research with jobs site SkillsMarket.

£29 per hour … 37½ hours a week … 52 weeks in a year … that makes over £56K/year. I don’t mind admitting that I don’t earn anywhere near that. I’m also aware that raw salary isn’t the only consideration when taking a job—I’d much rather have an enjoyable but underpaid job than an overpaid but hellish one—but in a country where unexceptional one-bedroom flats go for a a third of a million pounds (that’s over $600,000 at current exchange rates) you can’t completely ignore it.

There’s something skulking and evasive about all the secrecy, and I’m very tempted to put the cat among the pigeons by posting my actual salary here. Is there any reason why I shouldn’t? Is the taboo really helping us? I’d love to be able to have an informed, grown-up discussion on the subject.

Knowledge workers of the world, unite! What do we have to lose but face? Anyone bold enough?