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Dear Satya Nadella, ‘karma’ be damned: A proof of sexism in Silicon Valley

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (Image: AP)

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was blasted on Twitter on Thursday for saying women don’t need to ask for a raise and should just trust the system to pay them well. However, he later apologised for his comment and said that “men and women should get equal pay for equal work.”

Nadella had been asked to give his advice to women who are uncomfortable requesting a raise.
His response: “It’s not really about asking for the raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along.” Not asking for a raise, he added, is “good karma” that would help a boss realize that the employee could be trusted and should have more responsibility.

So, where has karma got females in the job world, especially in the technology sector?

It’s not unknown that tech companies are sexist. Tech companies hire many more men than women. A Huffington Post article notes that most Silicon Valley companies have no women or just one women on their boards.

According to Steven Davidoff, as reported in The New York Times, “Women make up only 16 percent of directors at Fortune 500 companies, 4 percent of chief executives at Standard & Poor’s 500 companies and 10 percent of chief financial officers at S. & P. 500 companies.”

According to a study by law firm Fenwick & West, as reported by Huffington Post, although women account for about half of the US labor force and more than half of the workers in management and other professional jobs, very few women make it through the door to the executive suite. And, the Silicon Valley door is virtually closed for women.

So, the system that Nadella wants women to trust and not ask for anything in return, provides them with 78 cents to the dollar of what men earn.
 And it gets worse.

A Telegraph report points out that female bosses only earn around three quarters as much as their male counterparts. That essentially means women have to work until they are 80 years old in order to catch up with what a man would typically earn in his career.

More importantly, here’s a look at Microsoft’s own records:
According to the figures released by the company this month, though women who make up Microsoft’s global workforce jumped 5 percent over the last year, the percentage of female workers at the company still remains at a paltry 29 percent. The number of senior executive women and minorities grew from 24 percent to 27 percent.

Of the 12 board members, Teri List-Stoll, the chief financial officer of Kraft Foods, and Maria Klaw, president of Harvey Mudd College, are the only female directors at the company.

Microsoft also doesn’t have a great history when it comes to women. In 2011, the former second in command at Microsoft UK was accused of sexual misconduct involving at least five separate women which involved a £10 million High court battle.

Also, since Nadella says ‘believe in karma’, you would expect companies to treat women fairly. But it’s not the case. A Time report notes: 

“At an Australian tech conference in September, millionaire startup founder Evan Thornley unironically said that a perk of hiring women is that their salary is still “relatively cheap compared to what we would’ve had to pay someone less good of a different gender.”

“Someone less good” was then a man, who would be paid more than the woman. Wow!
So, what karma was Nadella talking about?

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