Discuss gender in the workplace and there it is, stubborn, infuriating, impossible to avoid: the pay gap. For every dollar a man earns, professional women earn only 78 cents.
The pay gap holds across and within professions, including some of the highest-paying. It is real, and it is persistent.
So at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing—a conference on women in tech in Phoenix, Arizona—it was likely to be a common topic of conversation. And when Maria Klawe, the president of Harvey Mudd College, interviewed Satya Nadella, the recently installed CEO of Microsoft, it was bound to come up.
And, indeed, it did. Klawe, academic, asked Nadella, CEO: How should women handle the pay gap? How should they secure fair and equal pay?
Now, before continuing, let us review some statistics.
We know first of all that there is that stubborn, shocking pay gap. It persists across jobs and careers.
And we know, what’s more, that however bad things are in the workforce generally, they are particularly bad in tech, where women hold just 25 percent of the jobs. (They make up 57 percent of the entire workforce.)
Ann Friedman recently (and excellently) compiled all the dismal numbers about the state of women in tech. Hunt for the root cause, she writes, and you have to “look at who’s holding the purse strings”:
Only 4 percent of senior venture capitalists are women, and 19 percent of U.S. angel investors are women. Is it any wonder that men are 40 percent more likely to be funded by venture capitalists, and only 4 to 7 percent of startup founders are women? (Well, that number is disputed, but almost everyone agrees it’s single-digit.) Software developers, the darlings of the tech gold rush, are only 20 percent women. A third of female tech entrepreneurs reported facing “dismissive attitudes” from their co-workers. […] Even when women break into tech, they don’t stay. More than half — 56 percent — end up leaving the industry.
That’s right. Even once they get to tech, most women don’t linger: