Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella attracted a chorus of criticism after advising a conference of women in the tech industry that they should not ask for raises, but wait for "karma" to provide them. Nadella was speaking at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, which describes itself as the world's largest technical conference for women in computing. Nadella's comments only validated the concerns that observors have raised about Silicon Valley's "brogrammer" culture and lack of diversity.
“It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise,” Nadella said in conversation with Maria Klawe, the president of Harvey Mudd college and a member of the Microsoft board of directors.
“That might be one of the initial ‘super powers,’ that quite frankly, women [who] don’t ask for a raise have. It’s good karma. It will come back.”
The response from the mostly female attendees lit up social media -- and not with compliments. Tech blog ReadWrite compiled a list of responses from angry attendees.
â€” Ingrid Bernaudin (@IngridBernaudin) October 9, 2014
Thanks goodness Maria Klawe is there to give women practical advice on asking for a raise, after the male speaker failed. #ghc14
â€” P. Oppenheimer (@priscillaoppy) October 9, 2014
â€” Leigh Honeywell (@hypatiadotca) October 9, 2014
Nadella later walked back on his remarks on Twitter, but his attempt at contrition attracted further negative commentary.
Was inarticulate re how women should ask for raise. Our industry must close gender pay gap so a raise is not needed because of a bias #GHC14
â€” Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) October 9, 2014
.@satyanadella so you're just saying "trust the system that created the structural inequity" in a slightly different way?
â€” Mark McBride (@mccv) October 9, 2014
@satyanadella so you've never asked for a raise or a promotion? Amazing.
â€” Kenneth (@kpk) October 9, 2014
Nadella's comments sound particularly tone-deaf in light of the Census Data from the 2014 Silicon Valley Index, which shows that men working in Silicon Valley with a graduate or professional degree earn 73 percent more than women in the industry with the same degrees, according to a report from Thinkprogress.