A well-known picture in tech circles, taken in 1978, shows the first 11 employees at Microsoft. Two are women. One of them left two years later after a pay dispute.
Almost four decades later, the ratio has improved: About a third of Microsoft’s 1,10,000 or so employees are women. But the company’s pay practices and attitude toward women are still open to question and will likely be taken up at the board level, according to one director, Maria Klawe.
The issue hit the headlines and social media on Thursday when new chief executive officer Satya Nadella suggested women in tech shouldn’t ask for pay raises but should instead trust the system and rely on “karma” to get what they deserve.
He later said he was wrong, but the damage was done, reinforcing the view that Microsoft — and the tech industry generally — is a boys’ club. “He blew that question,” said Klawe over the phone . “He’s retracted it. I think it’s going to take us all to a better place. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be thinking really hard about pay equity,” she added.