Satya Nadella’s First Big Screwup

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s new CEO, was interviewed on stage at the Grace Hopper Conference on Women in Computing.  This should have been an easy layup; he was being interviewed by Maria Klawe, a Microsoft director and all-around god and reasonable person. Then Satya opened his mouth.

He was asked what advice he had for women who were uncomfortable asking for a pay raise.

Nadella replied in part: “It’s not really about asking for the raise but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along. And that, I think, might be one of the additional superpowers that quite frankly women who don’t ask for a raise have, because that’s good karma. It’ll come back because somebody’s going to know that’s the kind of person that I want to trust, that’s the kind of person that I want to really want to give more responsibility to. And in the long term efficiency, things catch up.”

What an awful, tone-deaf response, that shows he doesn’t even begin to understand the problem.

Women can’t trust the system; it’s rigged against them. In “the system,”  men get paid more than women because men ask for raises. Even when they don’t get the raise, no one holds it against them; in fact, it’s an example of a “take charge attitude.” Women generally don’t ask for raises, and when they do such behavior is cited as evidence that she is “pushy” or “abrasive.”

Satya, time for you to go back to school. Saying you were inarticulate doesn’t even begin to cover your ass for this. You showed the whole tech industry (and certainly all women) that you truly don’t understand why women struggle in the tech industry. Right now, you can bet that there are an awful lot of women at Microsoft who are updating their resumes.

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