Absolutely, this doesn't just apply to software engineers in Silicon Valley. Looking through the data, I see the same thing for all kinds of engineers in the Midwest. There are "Senior Engineer Design" people making $93k ($73k prevailing), while a "Technical Specialist Advanced Systems Design" makes $80k ($66k prevailing). These are arguably the same position, but the "Engineer" title makes more money.
It is time that the title "Engineer" was stopped being abused by the IT
The fact is that any goon, whatever his/her qualifications (or lack thereof)
can apply for a job as a "Software Engineer" and can be interviewed and assessed
for the post by other "Software Engineers". Hence, the hideous state of a lot
Compare with a Mechanical Engineer. In the UK at least, first you have to do
your degree, then you have to get a job and be trained/handheld by a
Chartered Engineer for several years before you sit your professional exams.
If you pass those exams you then have the right to become a member of the
Institution of Mechanical Engineers, IMechE, and only then can you be let
loose on the jobsmarket and legally describe yourself as an "Engineer".
The same process goes for electrical, civil, chemical engineers. They all have
their own institutes and professional examinations.
Would you like your local bridge to be designed by a civil engineer who wasn't
Chartered? I think not. A Chartered Engineer is threatened with expulsion from
his institute and the end of his career as an engineer if he fouls up.
Yet the IT industry will happily take someone fresh out of university and let
them loose coding eg some banking application. When the crackers inevitably
break in, he/she might get sacked but they'll just move on continuing to
describe themselves as a "Software Engineer".
It's time that software developers had a professional institute that forces
them to do their time under a time-served, qualified engineer and then sit
professional examinations before they can call themselves "Engineer".
Once this happens, it will put an end to your H1B problem and the driving down
of salaries and hopefully improve the quality of software.