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[flagged] One in three tech workers is underpaid (wsj.com)
43 points by pramodbiligiri on Jan 11, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 46 comments

In other news, "half of children are achieving below average at school". Unacceptable.



Thanks for the links, just a minor nitpick:

From the article (first link), he said "condemned the fact that one in five pupils are leaving primary school without reaching the "national average" in English".

You made that into "half", possibly confusing median and average, something that that person did not do, judging by the quote.

Sure, original quotes:

> one in five children in primary schools at the age of 11 are leaving primary school without the national average

> "good" requires pupil performance to exceed the national average, and all schools must be good

I'm sure there was a certain minister who stood up in parliament declaring it to be an outrage that 50% of our children scored below average but I'm struggling to find a reference, partly because politicians keep making this same gaffe.

My point with the original "quote" ('"quote"' is not a quote either) was to illustrate the absurdity of these types of headlines. They're made all the time and they're always ridiculous.

I have seen that quote attributed to Bush, but it sounds like it could've been a made-up anecdote to make him look bad.

Yeah, I see this type of confusion all the time.

When most non-mathematicians (yep, SWEs included) use the word "average" sometimes the concept they intend to convey is "mean", and sometimes it is "median" (because of a commonplace implicit assumption that the distribution, even if not normal, is at least roughly symmetrical).

So I try not to use the word "average" at all (unless defined), and to only use "median" and "mean".

I think mentioning "half" here was just an exaggeration to make a point.

On a related note, I think it is perfectly possible that 70 % of all drivers are "better than average". It's a mathematical tautology that only 50 % are better than median, but the distribution of driver skill does not need to be a symmetric distribution, so median and average can be significantly different.

With things like IQ, the distribution is symmetrical by definition.

I was taught at school that "mean", "median" & "mode" were different averages.

Oh how we all love ambiguity in language!

Yes, sure. I'm not native English speaker but I think also in English, in colloquial use "average" is the same as "arithmetic mean".

It is possible to have more than half above the national average. I doubt it's probable though.

We just need a few to bring the average down so much, the rest are above it. Got to use those outliers to make some good PR.

It depends on what you mean by "national average".

My point is that for internal competition, using a comparison to other members as a target is never going to end well. In the end, the 'average' figure is a pretty meaningless value.

Instead, I think it's more important to target a standard. E.g. a minimum level of literacy/numeracy. "50% of our children can't spell" is a much more meaningful statement. Now as for how you measure that... that's a whole other problem.

Absolutely and couldn't agree more. Definitely should be target driven to a standard as I believe the focus is on the quality of education for everyone, not some threshold where someone slips through and that's ok.

This is not how average works, sorry :/

This is exactly how average works.

That is absolutely not how the average works.

  1, 1, 1, 1, 11
Average is 3, all but one are below average.

Yeah, you are right. It's me jumping to conclusions too fast. I was thinking about the median, which works that way for any sequence of non-equal values.

The distribution of Childrens' performance tends to be Gaussian.

Salaries not so much...

hope my comment (currently at the top) clarifies... ping me if it doesnt make sense.

The salary seems to be the most important thing for many people, i.e. this post got upvoted to place number one within minutes.

I think the salary is just one tiny part of the entire equation. As long as you can pay your rent, eat and save a bit you are fine.

Much more important than money is how you will increase your personal market value in the current job as fast as possible. That's the most important part. Then, stuff like your coworkers' smartness and likeliness, your boss (is he a psycho?), location and the actual industry and business model your company is in matters much more than money.

An extreme and unrealistic example, just to illustrate the point: Imagine you make $250K/yr working as a <to not offend anybody, put here some easy job profession which doesn't require too many skills> . You can surf the entire day, be on HN and Reddit. But after three years you are degenerated, you have no story to tell. No achievements at all. Your market value went to zero. And imagine the company is in a small village, there aren't any people who might push your limits and make you smarter. The company's industry is declining. I know, as said, this example is extreme but everyone who is making tons of money now faces some drawbacks, so stop thinking you are underpaid.

A job is a package, the salary is just one part of this package. It's in balance with the other parts and a high salary might compensate for a general weaker package.

"As long as you can pay your rent, eat and save a bit you are fine."

Yep, just make sure to never have a family and/or your own home! You'll be just fine...

Heh, people are such greedy delusionals.

This reads like an advertisement for Paysa. They compare resumes and find that 1/3 of tech workers are underpaid. This assumes that:

- All information about an employee is in a resume

- There is no difference between employers besides salary

- Working for less than maximum achievable salary means one is "underpaid"

edit: Big surprise, I went to the Paysa website and their main sales messaging is Get Paid What You Deserve - Paysa market data shows that 36% of professionals are underpaid relative to market. So this article is basically "Paysa publishes report saying that you should use their service to get more money." Flagged for spam.

There is a "web" link for paywalled articles.

But here: https://www.google.co.il/amp/www.wsj.com/amp/articles/one-in...

That trick doesn't seem to work for me anymore.

Did you try it in incognito mode? Edit: actually nevermind, doesn't work for me their either...

I tested this and it worked, and now it doesn't, so here is my assumption of what happened:

1) I click it from Google, it sees that Google is the referrer and saves a short-lived cookie that says I'm allowed to see the whole article, just in case I refresh

2) I try the link from HN, it works because I still have the cookie

3) You click the link from HN, you don't have the cookie, it fails

4) I try again in the evening, I don't have the cookie anymore, if fails

Anyway, click the "web" link near the title and click the first Google result.

As one of the founders of Paysa, wanted to jump in and clarify. There is no notion of average here. What we have found is that everyone has a "worth" (or a "market rate" for their skills, experience etc.) and they also have an actual. SO, each person has their own range of salary possibilities and their own average, conditioned on their profile. Comparing each person's actual to their conditional average shows that a 36% are paid 10% less than what they deserve. This is not comparing each person to some broad market averages/ranges etc. It is all about each and every individual's potential for getting paid.

This seems to be an advertisement [0] for Paysa. Too bad that it's paywalled.

> More than one-third of tech professionals are earning at least 10% less than they could command if they looked for a new job today

I agree that many technology workers (myself included) are underpaid, but this does not seem to be evidence of that. I think most people could make 11% more money if they went on the job market. That's what the new company has to pay you to overcome inertia.

[0] http://paulgraham.com/submarine.html

Not paid enough to pay for a WSJ sub either...

100% of tech workers are underpaid if we had any sort of legitimate market for labor rather than a collusion by managers to drive the price of labor by justifying it against living costs. The value generated by services by IT workers at times is order of magnitude greater than they are paid. And there is always a shortage of them if accounts from industry are believed, which would lead market forces to push up the price to hire them significantly greater than living cost value making them all wealthy. Not so in the managerial economy, where shareholders capture that value because they have money. And this sort of collusion goes back to the very early days of Silicon Valley.

You need to think in terms of marginal rather than average effects. Diamonds are more expensive than water because the latter is so abundant (at least for now) that it can profitably be provided for low value use like watering golf courses. It doesn't matter that the first units each household purchases are completely indespensible.

There is no neccisary exploitation story with good being sold/labour being provided at a price below the average value to the purchaser. However, it could be that buyers collude to pay less than their marginal value for the procuct.

Diamonds are extremely abundant. So I don't think your example is good, there is collusion to keep their prices sky high. There is artificial control on the quantity of diamonds to create scarcity to drive up costs.

Ok thanks, I didn't know that. Could substitute for something else like caviar and the principal applies.

What's this collusion you speak of? Not saying it doesn't exist (and true, prosecutable collusion has happened in the tech industry), just wondering exctly what you're referring to.

There is implicit collusion that is taught in management schools and generally accepted as a norm to value labor against living cost, rather than the value that labor generates in the market. Therefore companies are not willing to pay much more than living cost for workers, other than some superstar sociopath who has been able to get the company by the throat and justify say 1/2 million for his position because he's irreplaceable.

While I agree with your sentiments, something is a bit off here with the reality of the specifics you're stating.

> There is implicit collusion that is taught in management schools and generally accepted as a norm to value labor against living cost, rather than the value that labor generates in the market.

This isn't implicit collusion of a business education. This is a result of the brand of capitalism, and inefficient markets, we have allowing for the manipulation of labor prices.

> Therefore companies are not willing to pay much more than living cost for workers, other than some superstar sociopath who has been able to get the company by the throat and justify say 1/2 million for his position because he's irreplaceable.

They are in fact taught that EVERYONE is replaceable even them.

If you share profits, be ready to share risks. Buy a share, who forbids?

All you need to pay is the lowest salary that one person currently in the labor market will accept. This is closely related to living expenses for obvious reasons. No collusion required.

Yes that's how a market starts but if it continue that's no longer true, and also the cost of living goes up by how much money people are paid via the housing banking mechanism in which the banks capture that extra value that the companies pay out. The board is set up put money in the pockets of those who already have it. Not to make anyone wealthy. The real estate banking system is one such money sink, probably the greatest one.

As the article is paywalled I want to say:

maybe one in three is overpaid, and one in three is in the mean. But that wouldn't fit a gauss distribution. Just rambling the thoughts those 8 lines triggered.

Yeah, because of the paywall, I have to assume most of the upvotes have not read the article :-(

Judging by the upvotes, a lot of people in tech apparently feel like they're underpaid.

Do 1/3 of engineers produce more value for their company than than their pay?

That seems high from the minority of engineers that produce the majority of the value at large companies. I'd argue a small minority is vastly underpaid, and most engineers are overpaid.

That probably applies to anyone working in Spain.

Why would you post or upvote an article behind a paywall?

so 1 in 3 is overpaid, 1 in 3 paid adequately, and the last one overpaid, logic 101

I feel underpaid too.

or, paid just enough not to leave.

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