By now, you must have read that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told a room full of women that instead of asking for a raise, they should trust in the system and “karma” to resolve the current gender wage gap. “That might be one of the initial ‘super powers,’ that quite frankly, women who don’t ask for a raise have,” he said to Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College and Microsoft board member at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. “It’s good karma. It will come back.”
At a time where it’s become fashionable to talk about the lack of women in STEM jobs – see Google’s recent take on “the missing men in the conversation about women in tech” – Nadella’s comments seem completely out-of-date and misinformed.
While it would be fantastic to believe karma could solve the existing pay gap, it hasn’t yet. These three facts may help Nadella prepare for the next time he fields a question on how the system pays women:
1. In 2013, the gender wage gap for full-time/year-round workers was 22% – or 78 cents to a man’s dollar. Women’s median annual earnings in 2013 were $39,157 compared with $50,033 for men. If the pace of change in the annual earnings ratio continues at the same rate as it has since 1960, it will take another 45 years, until 2058, for men and women to reach parity, finds Institute for Women’s Policy Research data. Over a 40-year career, this amounts to women being paid nearly half a million dollars less.