Microsoft CEO Apologizes for Advising Women Not to Ask for Raises

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella apologized Thursday night after receiving heavy criticism for suggesting women shouldn't ask for raises at a celebration for women in computing. When asked what advice he had for women who feel uncomfortable asking for a raise, he said women who don't ask for raises have a "superpower" and gain good karma by trusting the system to eventually give them the right raises in the long run. 

"It's not really about asking for the raise," Nadella told the audience of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference, "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 raises have. Because that's good karma, that'll come back." 

Many audience members and online watchers took to Twitter to complain about Nadella's sexist-sounding comments:

The gender gap in the computing industry is unquestionable. Only 26 percent of the computing workforce in the U.S. was made up of women in 2013 (only a one percent increase since 2011), according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology. And on average, women in the workplace only earn about three quarters of the salary that their male counterparts make doing the same job, reports Mashable. Even more troubling is the lack of diversity. In 2013, only 10 percent of computing jobs in the U.S. were held by women of color.

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference moderator Maria Klawe countered Nadella's sexist advice, politely saying this was one of the few times she disagreed with him. The audience cheered the successful Harvey Mudd president and Microsoft board member on. Klawe explained how she ended up getting $50,000 less than she should have when she was hired as the dean of engineering in Princeton.

Klawe then advised women to not "be stupid like [she was]" by first doing their homework on salaries and the like. She advised them to research the appropriate salary for the job they're being offered. Klawe also suggested role-playing by practicing asking for the salary you really deserve with someone you trust.

Nadella later admitted his mistake, tweeting, "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" after several audience members and watchers took to Twitter to complain. 

He further apologized in a publicized email to Microsoft employees later that night, writing in part, "I answered that question completely wrong. Without a doubt I wholeheartedly support programs at Microsoft and in the industry that bring more women into technology and close the pay gap. I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work. And when it comes to career advice on getting a raise when you think it’s deserved, Maria’s advice was the right advice. If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask."

Maria Klawe gave some great advice for us on how to ask for a raise. We'd love to hear advice from you as well, collegiettes! Share your thoughts by commenting below!