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Sexism, alive and well in the tech world

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols | Oct. 17, 2014
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has backed off from his remarks, but the bottom line is that Microsoft, along with much of the tech industry, still sees women as second-class citizens.

Good advice indeed. But which sound bite gives us the better glimpse of what Nadella really thinks?

Nadella apologists were quick to pop up, even before Nadella had "clarified" his views, to say that he didn't really mean what he had said. Curiously, all of them were men. But I don't see much room for confusion about Nadella's words. You cannot take the statement that not asking for a raise is a female super power and transmute it to mean what Nadella later said: "If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask." Nor do I buy the notion that Nadella was talking about some special Microsoft raise system.

This is what all of this really comes down to: Nadella, like many men, perhaps most of them, would rather not pay women equal rates for equal work.

That's the way it is in most industries, but there's evidence that it's worse in the technology sector. Joint Venture Silicon Valley, a civic and trade association, found that "Income inequality by gender is worse in Silicon Valley than it is for the whole of California: U.S. Census Bureau figures found that males with professional or graduate degrees earn 52 percent more than women when the entire population is taken into account, while men with a bachelor's degree earn 36 percent more."

You might think that's because women often work in "pink-collar" jobs. Think again. Claudia Williams, a research analyst for the Institute for Women's Policy Research in Washington, found that "income inequality actually gets worse as incomes go up, not better."

Yes, there are women at the top in tech -- CEOs like HP's Meg Whitman, Yahoo's Marissa Mayer and IBM's Ginni Rometty. That's great. But for far too many rank-and-file women working as system administrators, programmers or managers, paychecks are still significantly less than those of their male counterparts -- and that's just fine with their male bosses.

So here's hoping that if women do possess super powers, one of them is knowing BS when they hear it.


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