While at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Phoenix, a conference to talk about issues women face in the tech industry, Mr. Nadella was asked what women should do to be paid more.
“It’s not really about asking for the raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raises as you go along,” Nadella said. "That, I think, might be one of the additional superpowers that, quite frankly, women who don’t ask for a raise have. Because that’s good karma. It’ll come back because somebody’s going to know that’s the kind of person that I want to trust. That’s the kind of person that I want to really give more responsibility to. And in the long-term efficiency, things catch up."
Maria M. Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College, who was moderating the discussion, began the event by saying she adored Nadella and called him amazing, but after his comment, Dr. Klawe answered, "this is one of the very few things I disagree with you on."
Nadella, who became Microsoft's CEO in February, has since apologized for his statement.
And a few hours after the event, he sent an e-mail to the company, according to Time Magazine.
“Without a doubt I wholeheartedly support programs at Microsoft and in the industry that bring more women into technology and close the pay gap. I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work. And when it comes to career advice on getting a raise when you think it’s deserved, Maria’s advice was the right advice. If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask.”
So what is Microsoft's record with employing women?
In data released on Oct. 3, only 29 percent of Microsoft's workforce are women, that's up from 24 percent a year ago. But if you look at the percentage of women that are employed in Microsoft's tech jobs, the number is only 17 percent. Microsoft's leadership is also only 17 percent women. That's in line with other big tech companies. About 30 percent of all Google employees are women, but only 17 percent of its tech workforce are women. Women only make up 15 percent of Facebook's tech workforce and 23 percent of its senior leadership.
Though the numbers are far from equal, Claudia Goldin, a labor economist at Harvard University, released data in April that found that tech jobs do have a narrower pay gap than other industries. On average, women in tech make 89 percent of men's salaries, compared to only 71 percent for physicians and surgeons. Specific pay at Microsoft wasn't available.
Microsoft is very open about its diversity, or lack thereof. It has an entire page dedicated to the subject. And Microsoft has a group called Women at Microsoft Employee Resource Group, which was created in 1990. The group works to increase the amount of women working at Microsoft and improving gender diversity among its leadership. The group also started DigiGirlz Day in 2006, to introduce influential young women into the tech industry.
Others are also working to increase diversity among the tech industry. Reshma Saujani started Girl Code to inspire young women to pursue a career in the tech industry. Ms. Saujani told the Monitor in September, that she was terrified of math and science growing up, and she didn't want other girls to miss out on opportunities because of similar fears.
"I didn't want any girl to feel that insecurity or that lack of confidence," she says.