Women in tech is a hot topic in an era where diversity is not only wanted, but has become a necessity. We can’t aspire to create great things without including the female demographic, which can offer great ideas and unparalleled talent.
Events celebrating and encouraging women in tech have spawned out of this movement. One of them is the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing at the Anita Borg Institute in Arizona, which took place today. Sadly, not everyone walked away with a smile.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was a main speaker at this event. Boy is he getting a good amount of fire after his advice to women who feel uncomfortable asking for a raise.
In an interview with Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College, Satya tells women that “it’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise.”
He goes on to say women who don’t ask for money have a “super power”. These are people that will later be trusted with more responsibilities. Therefore, the system would be taking care of rewarding them accordingly.
Of course, this was not a good advice to give in a room full of well-informed women looking to bridge the gender gap in the tech industry. It was a bit insensitive, especially considering this system he asks people to trust underpays women by nearly a quarter, compared to men.
Maria Klawe recognizes this and raises her voice to accept she disagrees with Satya. She mentions a story in which she was probably underpaid about $50,000 for not doing her research and asking for the right reward.
Maria then tells the audience women should research and try to practice ways to ask for what they truly deserve, even if it may be uncomfortable. This definitely sounds like a better approach, but does it mean Satya was completely wrong?
Bridging the gender gap
Though Microsoft CEO’s words were not chosen well, we definitely understand what he meant. The tech industry is ran by passion, and that is what we try to be all about. We will often find that we get rewarded after doing great things, not before – and he is hoping the same will apply to women.
In fewer words, focus more on your passion for tech and how you can accomplish great things… money will come alone. He wasn’t considering the gender gap in this comment, and that is what made the public upset. He did try to clarify on Twitter, though.
Was inarticulate re how women should ask for raise. Our industry must close gender pay gap so a raise is not needed because of a bias #GHC14
— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) October 9, 2014
After all, Microsoft has been great at trying to annihilate gender discrimination in the tech industry. Among other projects, the Redmond giant has a blog that is all about women in computing and how important they are for the future. After all, there is a reason why Satya was invited to this event, he just had a slip.
I have to say the right answer is a combination of both mindsets. Do try to focus more on your own progress and making great things. After all, that pride is what will make your innovations great, and it’s the only thing you will take to your grave.
At the same time, make sure you aren’t getting treated unjustly or being royally screwed over.