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'Good karma' not working for women's pay in U.S.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is being derided for saying women shouldn’t ask for raises and should trust “good karma” will reward them later.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is being derided for saying women shouldn’t ask for raises and should trust “good karma” will reward them later.
Published Oct. 11, 2014

NEW YORK — Don't ask for a raise. Keeping quiet will give you "superpowers" that will translate into employer trust and other "good karma" that will eventually come back around to your purse.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was widely derided Thursday for his foot-in-mouth statement at an event celebrating women in computing. During Nadella's stage interview, Microsoft director Maria Klawe asked him to give advice to women who want to advance their careers but are uncomfortable asking for promotions and raises. His pearl of wisdom: Just trust that the system will reward you "as you go along." He didn't say if he has employed that philosophy during his decades-long career at Microsoft. He later apologized.

Men are eight times more likely than women to negotiate salary when taking a job, said a study by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever for their 2007 book Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation and Positive Strategies for Change.

Here's a look at how that "good karma" is working out:

• On average, women in the United States working full time were paid 78 cents for every dollar that men earned in 2013, U.S. Census Bureau figures say.

• Women in the computer technology industry earn an average of $6,358 a year less than men, factoring in education, age, region and occupation differences, says a recent study by the nonprofit American Institute for Economic Research. You're a mom, too? The "child penalty" costs you $11,247 a year.

• Female engineering majors earn an average of 88 percent of their male counterparts' salaries a year after graduation, and female majors in computer and information sciences earn 77 percent of men with the same degree, says a study by the American Association of University Women.

• At Microsoft, women make up 29 percent of employees. At Facebook, women make up 31 percent of total workers and 15 percent of its tech employees, mainly in engineering. And at Google, 30 percent of workers are women, but when it comes to leadership positions, the number drops to 21 percent.

• The pay gap is even bigger in the financial services industry, where women earn $14,067 a year less than men, says the American Institute for Economic Research.

• Only 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies are led by women, 25 female CEOs in total.

• About 17 percent of corporate board seats are held by women in the United States, says the nonprofit catalyst.org, which tracks issues surrounding women in the workplace.

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