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There is no gender gap in tech salaries (qz.com)
162 points by goronbjorn on March 3, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 124 comments

I'm a little surprised that there is a serious concern that this article doesn't address with gender-gapped salaries, though, and it's been touched upon several times on HN. Women tend to negotiate starting salaries and raises much less than men do, to the point where it can skew wage statistics by a nontrivial amount.

There was someone on HN a while ago who hired several engineers, and said that his company pays women less than men because he makes the same starting offer to several people, and almost all the men asked for more money, yet none of the women did. So the offers the company made were "fair", but the end results were very skewed wages.

There are entire books about this subject, such as "Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation"[1]

Companies could fix this overnight by disallowing negotiation (Didn't Fog Creek do this?), or making all employees salaries transparent (countries like Norway do this, and we do this for C-levels often in the US, just not plain old employees).

I suspect nothing institutional will change though because it would ultimately cost companies money. They benefit too much from workers who negotiate poorly.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/dp/0553383876

"Women are penalized more than men for negotiating," Babcock tells Alex Cohen. "People are less likely to like them; if they negotiate in a job interview, they are less likely to hire them. There are real social sanctions that occur when women initiate negotiations."


You know that study is based on role-play, not reality, right?

In a randomized double-blind study(n=127), science faculty from research-intensive universities rated the application materials of a student — who was randomly assigned either a male or female name — for a laboratory manager position. Faculty participants rated the male applicant as significantly more competent and hireable than the (identical) female applicant. These participants also selected a higher starting salary and offered more career mentoring to the male applicant.


This. This sort of research is the smoking gun. Think about it: The same CV with the same qualifications was rated worse if they thought it was a woman. This isn't some "women don't push for raises" or "women don't apply for high paid jobs", this is outright (but subconscious) "women who are just as skilled as men, being viewed as worse".

If this was a conversation about whether a new drug worked, the conversation would be over.

OK, so that says the situation is bad within academic science. It still does not support the idea that women (in the tech industry) who negotiate are punished, it says that in academic research they are offered less.

In fact given that the article we're allegedly discussing is about how there is no pay gap in tech, there's reason to think that this sort of outcome may not apply across the board.

  1 - more roleplay
  2 - perceptions of women in management, says nothing about earnings, concludes people may actually prefer female managers.
  3 - Says women who alter their behaviour in certain ways actually do better than men.
I'm not sure of the point you were trying to make, but they don't seem to support the idea that women are actively penalised for negotiating out in the real world.

But wouldn't the experiments at least indicate the possibility that they reflect reality?

Definitely worth looking into, you certainly can't tell a lot from that npr article. Who did the role play? We're they a random assortment of psych students or people who had actually been on both sides of the table? Is there a good reason to think these classroom results hold up outside?

There has been no global warming since 1998.

When I started dating my (now) wife, she didn't negotiate her salary, and was at a company where other people did. I helped her figure out what to ask for, how to negotiate, and how to feel good about it. We built a spreadsheet to arm her with some data (e.g. salary compared to inflation). It worked.

I hope by mentioning it that other people might do similarly.

What I've found anecdotally from my wife and other girls I talk to about negotiating salary is they usually downplay it's importance because they get too attached to the position/company "Oh well I really like this place and what they offered was decent even though it's less than I'm making now, plus they give two weeks of vacation!", so usually they'll go back and get a miserable little 1k to 2k bump from original offer then gladly accept it.

Or it could be cognitive dissonance. Explaining to yourself (or others) why you didn't push for the raise.

"Really liking" the place where you work has to be worth something ...

You are correct. For my wife, though, she sees that as a reason to not ask for more money. I've tried to convince her that she could maybe have both.

sounds great. Any chance of a quick how-to? I'm a male and I've never negotiated a salary either.

I have wasted many hours of my life+productivity on HN, but this one URL (which I found on HN) has more than made up for it.

Employees, take it to heart.

Employers, you have been warned.

Indeed. That was very insightful. It's interesting to see the things I've arguably done well in past negotiations and those that I did poorly...

As with anything it's about practice, negotiation is an art. For an unskilled negotiator the best thing to know is your BATNA.

A great rule of thumb is if people aren't saying no you didn't ask for enough.

The first time I negotiated I shot way over, apparently even the lawyer didn't make that much, my reply was that the lawyers work usually wasn't scalable across multiple clients and that any code I made was a capital good that could be resold again and again generating value in the company for years, then I pulled out a sales spreadsheet showing how the code I wrote for various product lines brought additional revenue to the company and then multiplied by the average length on the contract. (Make a really big number and ask for a small part of it).

Needless to say I was so successful in my negotiations that I was no longer allowed to have access to sales data.

The best part is once you negotiate a good salary you can use it in future negotiations as an indication of skill to get even better salaries. (eg. Does the competitor want to steal the $50K per year coder, or the $250K per year coder?)

For salary negotiation, I don't think knowing your BATNA is that helpful. Your BATNA is either accepting their initial offer or walking away.

I think your best course of action is to gather up salary data based on the job responsibilities of the job you're applying for. There are lots of online resources for researching salaries and you'll be able to grab data points like median, and quartiles. You can then massage that number up or down based on extra criteria like your unique skills, additional education, etc.

In any negotiation, finding objective criteria that you can show will always put you in a stronger position than creating semi-arbitrary bargaining positions.

The other best advice I could offer to would-be negotiators is to avoid setting any initial price until it's no longer reasonable to avoid it. If you have to name a price, name a price you're going to be very happy with.

My BATNA has rarely ever been accepting their offer, it's usually been already having an offer in hand, or having a bunch of interviews lined up in the coming days.

Objective criteria a horrible way to negotiate, look up the accounting term 'good will', you create 'good will' by not using objective criteria.

Name a price they will say no to, not one you're happy with, if they counter below your BATNA, tell them the mininum you'll accept is something above your BATNA, give them a timeframe to come correct, get up from the table and leave.

I could careless how badly the average, or 5th percentile employee is paid. If they want to retain me they'll a price better than my BATNA.

BATNA is best alternative to a negotiated agreement, meaning, it's what happens if you don't agree. So really, a BATNA in a salary negotiation for a new position is not taking the position. In an existing position where you're going for a raise, your BATNA is quitting.

BATNA isn't a bargaining position, it's your fallback option in case bargaining fails. I think you're talking more about your "bottom line", which is the lowest number you're willing to accept. A good negotiator goes in knowing his/her BATNA and bottom-line, but they're separate concepts.

I also completely disagree with you disregarding objective criteria. I used my recent purchase of a 2-year old vehicle as a way to gain some extra experience in negotiating and work on different approaches with two separate dealers. My initial approach with the dealer I ultimately bought from, was to derive my bottom-line number from objective criteria, but to show no strong evidence to how I got the numbers I was offering. I got nowhere with that approach. The sales manager didn't even come out to stop me from leaving when negotiations with the salesman got nowhere. We were only $1,000 from my bottom-line (which he didn't know) and about $1,800 away from our stated positions.

I came back a few days later with reasonable evidence based on market data of the particular model I was buying, as well as reasons why I'd go spend more money on another manufacturers' similar, but nicer model in the same class. They ended up coming down the full $1,800 after I was about to walk away again.

This works time and time again. Unless you're in a position where you completely don't care if you complete a purchase/sale/agreement, then holding onto unrealistic positions will never get you very far. My father-in-law likes to buy and sell stuff, but he pretty much only deals in unrealistic offers, and he rarely ends up buying or selling anything, even though he spends a decent amount of time looking.

For those like me who don't know the term BATNA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Best_alternative_to_a_negotiate...

Make them quote a number first.

Do not tell them what your previous salary was.

Whatever their number is, ask for $15k more

If they are a strong no, try and trade off that $15k for increased benefits in some way

If they are a weak no, lower your ask.

They will almost certainly give you $5k above what they quote, maybe $10k

And keep in mind: if you're a typical software engineer going through a typical full-day on-site software engineering interview, they've dumped the better part of $1000 worth of dev-hours just to interview you (double that if they flew you out!) so seriously, asking for an extra $5k is no skin off their back. Just do it.

Read 'Getting to Yes' and 'Bargaining to Advantage' for more specifics about this discussion. I think everyone should read them. It doesn't hurt to include 'Influence.'

Thank you for sharing this. It's practical. And not pitying, condescending, etc. Just helping her with a weak point, something we all have, no matter who we are.

-- signed, underpaid female. :-)

I suspect it will not change because stopping negotiation is not actually achievable. Certainly you could disallow negotiation for direct, monetary compensation, but that would just push the negotiation into other areas. People would start negotiating for more vacation, more holidays, better benefits, a bigger office, a company car, an assistant, a private "education budget" (ie, pay me to take a vacation) or whatever else they can. The number of ways to compensate someone are limited only by imagination and can move much more quickly than regulation can catch up.

A small example of this is when the US froze wages during World War 2, thus employers started offering perks like company-paid health insurance. That has since evolved into the mess we have now - that sure worked out great for everyone, didn't it?

Intra (small) company you could achieve this - "sorry, everyone gets the same deal: $x0k/year and y weeks of vacay and we only have one company benefits plan".

Gets trickier once if you're immense and have very specific skillset requirements.

That seems like a really perverse incentive. Seems like you're asking people to do JUST enough to not get fired.

Exactly what I was thinking (I remember that previous HN comment too).

I'd also suspect younger people negotiate less and people who are newer in the cycle of generational wealth (don't have someone helping them understand the process). Maybe since there are fewer women in engineering and friendships tend to generally be segregated by sex they don't have people to talk to about this kind of negotiation which further compounds the issue.

Some women might not press for raises (in some industries), but I have learned a ton about negotiation from female friends of mine. Like the director-level person at the last place I worked who started with literally twice the vacation days I had, just for example. And the family member who is simply always evaluating opportunities; she might take a first offer, but that is just a piece of data to her (i.e. if you're making it her problem to ask for more, then you're already at a disadvantage).

And don't underestimate the effect of networking among talented professional women either. Another friend of mine casually mentioned she was uncertain about a new boss during a ski trip and she immediately had solid options in better environments, one of which she took.

Other industries may lag, but it's fairly well established here that employers in technical and engineering fields are stuck with an increasingly difficult challenge of attracting and retaining talent. If you're not doing this proactively across the board already, then I'd love to know why.

Openness in wages (and benefits) would be a good move. It would encourage salaries to go up faster, when there are market inefficiencies.

I agree. Hiding salaries can only benefit the company, not the individual.

I agree that open salaries would be beneficial within an organization, or even perhaps across the industry, but I think that people should have the option to keep their salaries private to society in general. I do not need or want my family and many of my friends knowing how much I make. I deal with jealously and requests for personal "loans" enough as it is, and I live modestly (they all figure that I get paid a lot because of who I work for, but I would prefer that not be disambiguated).

When asked by friends in my industry what I make, I openly tell them if I am close to them, but I guard that information much more closely with anybody that I know to be making much less than me in other industries.

> Openness is wages (and benefits) would be a good move. It would encourage salaries to go up faster, when there are market inefficiencies.

Wages are public in Sweden (e.g. http://ratsit.se) and that doesn't make wages in Sweden high or raise faster. Salaries are, on average, much higher in neighbour Norway than in Sweden.

So there are other - more important - factors at play than knowing the competitions salaries.

Wages are public in Norway too, aren't they?

And if I get a better offer from another workplace, but you think the extra 10k I'm asking for will be more than offset by the productivity gains I'm bringing to the table? You'll happily turn me down and get a worse team?

Not really a world I want to live in.

It's a complex problem because there are feedback effects, but I think often that is a better decision for companies. Otherwise you end up with the situation where the people who are constantly threatening to leave get paid more, and the people who are spending their time doing actual work, rather than polishing their resumes and interviewing around, get paid less. This then incentivizes people who actually don't want to leave to go out and start collecting offers so they can argue better for a raise, which is a huge waste of their time and effort.

Taking one decision in isolation, it might be better to pay someone $10k more to keep them from leaving. But it might be better structurally to come up with a different policy for allocating raises than "allocate them to the people who negotiate most hardball". Unless, maybe, it's a sales job, where being good at negotiating is precisely the skill you want to reward.

I kinda meant negotiating a starting salary rather than a raise. I tend to have found in the past that raises happen with relative frequency when you're good at what you do, and I'm not the type to threaten to leave - if it's got that far I've made my decision.

> you think the extra 10k I'm asking for will be more than offset by the productivity gains I'm bringing to the table

Then your initial offer wasn't made in good faith. No-negotiation forces the person making the offer to actually consider what that hire would be worth, and offer accordingly.

Sure it was made in good faith, it was a perfectly reasonable offer, it just didn't work for me. This is a very soft, subjective and hard to measure area. That's basically the point.

You're misunderstanding what I mean by "good faith". If you don't allow negotiations, a good faith offer is exactly what that person is worth. This is why employees should prefer no-negotiation employers - either you're getting what you're actually worth, or the company is making lowball offers that can't be fixed by negotiation. This makes them vulnerable to market forces (and will presumably go out of business if enough possible employees are shopping around).

>> You're misunderstanding what I mean by "good faith". If you don't allow negotiations, a good faith offer is exactly what that person is worth.

As an employer, how do I calculate this ahead of time? It's next to impossible. This is not a hard science. We may find that gender biases exist here as well, as worth is very subjective.

If you mean "expected revenue potential for the company" then they pretty much have to try to lowball to some extent, because an employee that makes exactly what they bring in is not a net asset.

--edit-- I probably sound a bit pompous. Maybe there is a way to calculate this stuff ahead of time, I genuinely have no idea. I know in sectors unlike ours, where there is a shortage of positions rather than a shortage of people, that non-negotiable salaries are indeed used. In that situation you can easily say "We need a person to do X, this pays Y" and you'll get lots of worthwhile applicants.

> ">> [...] a good faith offer is exactly what that person is worth. [...]"

> "As an employer, how do I calculate this ahead of time? It's next to impossible. This is not a hard science."

Perhaps if the prospective employer guesses the prospective employees worth incorrectly, the prospective employee could politely correct them. ...wait, that's negotiation re-invented. ;)

> As an employer, how do I calculate this ahead of time?

Then how do you decide how high to go in negotiations? Its exactly the same thing, except you start there.

"Then how do you decide how high to go in negotiations?"

You discuss it with the prospective employee. You make a guess at what they are worth to your organization. If they disagree, they explain why they think that they are worth more. Explanations may include new information about what other companies in the market believe that person to be worth.

Without negotiation, you make a guess, the prospective employee tells you that they disagree.. and you're done. You've wasted that entire recruiting and interviewing cycle.^ It doesn't matter if both parties want to work together; without negotiation if the hiring party makes an incorrect guess then they do not get to work together. Any correction or attempt to re-guess falls under the umbrella of negotiation. Perhaps they could reapply, go through the interview process again, and have you attempt to guess a good salary again, but that is nothing but inefficient negotiation.

You could publish the offered salary before the beginning of the interview process, making that information known during recruiting, but then any attempt to communicate with failed recruiting attempts would be again another form of negotiation. Recruiter contacts a developer, says "I've got an position for you to look at, it offers $120k/yr" and the developer responds "I am worth at least $140k/yr"? If the recruiter relays that information to the hiring party, the hiring party would not be able to act on that information and adjust the offer because that is just pre-interview negotiation.

"Make the initial guess the maximum you would be able to pay somebody in the most extraordinary of situations" is very obviously not a viable strategy. I hope I don't have to explain why.


^ Note that while this is bad for the prospective employer, it will often be even worse for the prospective employee, who in many cases will be looking to become hired as soon as possible as they are either in an unsatisfying job (in which they are forbidden from asking for a raise...) or worse, unemployed. Without any negotiation, an unemployed person would be placed in the wildly unfair position of being forced to immediately settle for an unsatisfactory salary, or spend more time without income looking for and applying to another job.. hoping that that one doesn't accidentally lowball the salary. Most unemployed prospective employees would tend to settle immediately since some income is generally better than no income. In this way, bans on negotiation screw over individual employees and place unemployed people in an even tighter bind than they are in currently.

My company does the no-negotiation thing (and has done so for about 13 years now) so I'm surprised to learn that its a completely unreasonable model.

On a more serious note, the way we choose a salary is to look at various similar companies in the area and get an idea of what a competitive salary for the position/experience level is. If people are happy with this (they almost always have been, at least since I started) they take the offer; if they aren't, they don't. Its pretty simple, and avoids the issue of paying people for being good at negotiation, which as far as I can tell has no correlation with being a good developer.

Coincidentally my current employer does not negotiate either (well, not for standard developers...)

Our companies can safely refuse to negotiate because 1) they can let other companies in the area negotiate to set prices for them (without negotiation, determining the value of an employee becomes massively inefficient, mostly at the expense of the unemployed, who will tend to accept positions lower than they could negotiate for, lowering the overall regional salary), and 2) because generally for standard dev positions, they are aren't looking to hire a specific person. Any person that fits the roll will do, and there are plenty.

You want a college grad to start training on your software stack? Well sure then, figure out the regional salary for recent college grads, offer lots of college grads that salary, and take those who accept. So long as you have enough grads to choose from and eventually the positions get filled, who cares right?

You want recent Standford grad Joe Smoe who recently made waves online demoing that really cool shit that accidentally compliments [Top Secret Project]? Without negotiation, fat chance. There are no regional stats for Joe Smoe's expected starting salary. You either negotiate or your gamble.

If you are finding an employee to fill a position, you can get away with no negotiation if others in the industry still negotiate. If you are creating a position for a person, you have to negotiate.

If every company were forced to acted as our companies do, and for every position that they were filling, it would be catastrophic.

You may have missed out on some good people over the sake of a few k... especially if they (for instance) have domain specific knowledge that puts them ahead of other folks in the same sort of bracket?

No hiring process is perfect I guess.

> I suspect nothing institutional will change though because it would ultimately cost companies money. They benefit too much from workers who negotiate poorly.

Don't know if I agree with this. Maybe I can hire a somewhat experienced female engineer for $110k, but I know that sooner or later a recruiter or friend or GlassDoor query will tip her off that her peers are making 20% more. When that happens her morale will suffer, or she'll quit, or both.

When I've hired candidates who truly did not know their own worth, I made them offers above their asking to be inline with market rates.

Keep saying this and things like it. I read somewhere about a company that paid top dollar for its field. They had lower employee turnover than any other company in their industry. This saved the company scads of money in terms of hiring costs and had other benefits that are hard to readily quantify in terms of money but which do impact the bottom line (such as employees who had been there for years and years and had deep niche knowledge).

The thing we need to do is inform folks that screwing women (or anyone) over comes back to bite you. It isn't advantage to "take advantage" of anyone. The real costs are non-obvious and may be somewhere down the line but they do exist.

Have an(other) upvote. :-)

I think disallowing negotiation is ill-advised for several reasons.

If an explicit salary negotiation is banned, people will find other things to negotiate instead.

You will likely lose potential hires because you refuse to budge on salary. It is an inadvertent [negative] signal if, for example, the company is not even willing to add $5 to a salary. That would definitely be a deterrent to me.

Finally, this potentially penalizes all of those who do negotiate salary to attempt to appease those who won't. It sends a message that (in this context) women are weaker and cannot possibly learn to negotiate. A far better solution is to change the culture to help all, men and women both, feel comfortable and informed when negotiating terms of a new position.

Also worth stating: negotiation is a skill that helps throughout life, and rather then attempt to bury it in a specific context, it is far better to raise everyone up so that they can reap its rewards elsewhere.

The study is about salaries that are actually received though, not offers. The article says that there is a 6.6% gap over all occupations, which could definitely be due to women negotiating less. In Computer Science though, there is no gap. This might be due to women negotiating more than in other occupations or men negotiating less.

I'd be interested in seeing if you stripped the gender data off this & gave everyone a negotiation-skill score & saw how salary discrepancies followed that distribution.

>Companies could fix this overnight by disallowing negotiation

Fix what? What are they "fixing"? They seem to be fixing the problem of people being able to do better than default. Exiting times we live in...

It's the Harrison Bergeron method of pursuing equality. Instead of pulling up the disadvantaged, the advantaged are artificially limited. Prejudices and handicaps limiting the disadvantaged (in this case, prejudices against women who negotiate) are considered to be unchangeable facts of life; correcting those prejudices is not even considered.

I think that instead of disallowing negotiation at all, we could look to university job courses (the ones that currently teach resume and interviewing skills) to teach negotiation skills and techniques. It would be something that any student could find valuable. Not only would it make young people entering the job market more comfortable with the idea of negotiation, but it would make people on the company side of things more familiar and comfortable with the notion of women negotiating (correcting that prejudice, instead of accepting/ignoring it as the Bergeron-solution does).

If that proves unsuccessful, then less "personal" negotiation processes could be explored before the idea of negotiation was written off entirely. Perhaps sending a form letter with every offer letter saying something along the lines of "I'm sorry but I have to decline [position] because I've received a better offer of [$] from [company]" could work. Some sort of more forumalic approach to negotiation that reduces the human element (and therefore hopefully, the opportunity for human prejudices to manifest. I think that it is best to combat the prejudices however, not work around them).

A course on resume, interview, job search, and negotiation skills should be available on every college campus, but I have no idea how many schools offer it. When dealing with students and entry-level candidates, it seems they are often getting very poor (mostly dated) advice from peers, parents, and career counselors. This type of course would be incredibly valuable to new graduates.

I don't know about negotiation skills, but I know that interview/jobsearch skill courses were required at my university at least. Seems sort of like the bare minimum that a school could to do boost post-graduation employment.

Much of at least the interview portions of those courses involved splitting off into groups and grilling each other for several hours a quarter. The idea was to help people get over the jitters and feel comfortable bragging about themselves to others. I think that at least in that capacity, the course was effective.

Some people did not take those courses seriously, but that was likely because my university was heavily a co-op/internship school, so everybody taking those courses junior/senior year had already had dozens of interviews (1-15 each round, with up to 3 rounds for each co-op cycle, and either 2 or 3 co-op cycles. Granted interviews for extended internships are not quite the same as regular interviews, lacking most negotiation particularly).

Well, if a company both: 1) didn't negotiate wage offers; but 2) offered wages lower than people were willing to accept... they would end up with not enough employees. So it's not like they could just offer whatever they wanted.

I'm not sure it will work, but it seems to be the wage-side proposal of what e.g. Saturn is trying to do with cars: just say, look, this is our price, take it or leave it. Rather than the traditional car (and salary) pricing model where the real price you're willing to agree to is hidden, and arrived at via a negotiation process. That often results in whoever's better at negotiating getting the better deal. Now if it's a negotiating job that might even be a good thing, because the better negotiators are more valuable to you. Or if it's a job where the skill you're looking for correlates highly with being good at negotiating. But if that's not the case, just making the final offer of what you're willing to pay up front, rather than starting lower and negotiating upwards, could be better idea. Then rather than negotiating per-candidate, you just adjust your offer policy until it's high enough to get the kind of candidates you want.

The lack of flexibility seems to be a real problem, even when the compensation package is competitive. What if you really want a person, but they turn down the offer because they just need a little more?

You could give them what they want, and extend the same offer to all current and future employees of the same skill level.

I agree that his may be part of the difference, but here is my experience.

There IS a gender gap, but with it a matching skills/abilities gap.

I have experienced this first hand with dozens of women. A rare couple of them were top notch developers. They were ambitions and had a real passion for development and technology. So did about 20-25% of the men I worked with (vs less than 10% of the women). The other woman and men had base skills, but rarely showed ambition or passion to learn new thing and improve their skills, habits, tools, ETC. They were kind of just grinders. They never excelled or impressed. They weren't the kind who would tinker on the weekends with OSS or read development or tech blogs or books when they had free time.

The top notch women were promoted and made similar salaries as the top notch men. Overall though, the women lagged behind the men percentage wise because of the reasons mentioned.

I would be curious to know if others have seen this pattern. This is based on my 15 years in the software industry.

I remember hearing similar stories around recruitment. Women, on average would apply for job adverts only if they met around 90% of the job description requirements. Where men would generally just take the shotgun approach and apply with around 50% of the requirements.

Never really understood this "statistic" still dont. I do wonder if things have changed? I have a couple of girl friends in tech and have to do a fair bit of ego and confidence building before they work up enough balls to tell their bosses they are bored and need new responsibility and a raise to boot. Most guys I know just ask for more money in passing til it happens or they leave.

Disclaimer, I dont know shit about the inner workings of the female mind all I have is anecdote and the up most respect for girls/women in tech or otherwise.

It's nice to see woman writing on this subject. As a man, you'd be a fool to say such things in public. The social fallout from uttering these unpopular ideas will earn you only contempt, unless you want to be on the wrong end of a twitter witch hunt.

> The social fallout from uttering these unpopular ideas will earn you only contempt, unless you want to be on the wrong end of a twitter witch hunt.

I agree. The fact I have a penis attached to me means that I don't get to participate equally with all conversation partners. So while I'm all for equality, I keep quiet about things I both disagree and agree with, because my opinion is branded patriarchal bullshit a priori.

I gotta say I don't buy this. I was the token conservative on a lot of issues in grad school and I never got flack for saying my opinion on gender or race or economic issues as an Asian male from a privileged background. Not being an asshole about it works wonders.

Talking to people in person works wonders. The social media sphere of the internet seems to share a peculiar property with automobiles: when social media or cars are involved, people often dehumanize others and turn into massive assholes. Normally perfectly well adjusted people turn into tire-iron wielding maniacs.

It also helps if you do not pre-emptively open a full frontal attack on others, like the previous two posters did with "twitter witch hunt" and "my opinion is branded patriarchal bullshit".

Such people aren't interested in having a constructive discussion in the first place, make that perfectly clear in the same sentence as in which they express their opinion, and then proceed to act indignant if the other side responds in kind...

My feelings are invalid and actually just an attack?

Except of course, those two things have actually happened, multiple times.

When Adria Richards tweeted that guy's picture in DongleGate, he got fired, and she got called a hero and fashioned herself Joan of Arc (no really). When Feminist Software Foundation appeared on Github, Ashe Dryden tweeted the list of people who starred the repo and suggested their employers should be told. Shanley Kane's medium.com posts are full of blaming "white men", "privilege" and "patriarchy" for this or that, with usually nothing to back it but anger and indignation.

To me, the phrases "twitter witch hunts" and "being branded patriarchal bullshit" seem entirely accurate.

Or would you call that being interested in a "constructive discussion"?

> Not being an asshole about it works wonders.

That is just incredibly presumptive.

Difference: you were in gradschool, not online where people feel entitled to attack others for any difference in opinion.

That's because you were the token conservative.

A stereotype has no role to shift the status quo because the token exists to demonstrate that which is to be corrected.

If you're a good token, you're just being used to buy another round.


Asians are considered privileged academically. In America they get better grades than average, on average.

> Asians are considered privileged academically. In America they get better grades than average, on average.

So studying more and harder and partying less is considered a privilege?

It's shocking and unconscionable. Some people are even given a leg up by parents that care for them and sacrifice for them and push them to succeed. Those nazis will be first against the wall when the revolution comes. Don't they know they are oppressing other children through their success?

> In America they get better grades than average, on average.

Don't women get better grades than men on average?

Probably. At least in terms of college gender population, we're approaching a female:male ratio of 3:2.

And amazingly (/s) nobody wants to talk about that, nor the disparity in male vs female high school graduation rates and literacy rates.

The disparity in university enrollment seems less troubling to me, since it is likely in no small part merely a symptom of a root cause somewhere in primary/secondary schooling or child rearing (which causes the high school graduation and literacy rate disparity).

Something during that birth-18 age range also seems at least partially responsible for gender disparities in major enrollment. Male:Female ratios for particular classes in CS departments seem to get worse as each year (a class that starts off 1:4 might drop down to 1:20 by senior year), but the fact that they start off bad suggests that something is going wrong earlier in the process, likely during highschool.

Identifying exactly what is going wrong in primary/secondary schools is paramount, but I see rather little to address it. There are many extracurricular programs designed to correct gender imbalances that appear during primary/secondary schooling, but those programs are addressing symptoms, not attempting to identify the cause. What exactly is it about highschools that make boys struggle with literacy more than girls? What exactly is it about highschools that set the stage for disparate university and program enrollment numbers?

If I had to venture a guess, without any sort of evidence, I would say that zero-tolerance policies probably affect teenage boys more than teenage girls, and therefore probably play a roll in teenage boys receiving a poorer quality education (particularly since punishments typically involve being removed from lectures... rather than receiving supplementary instruction.) Areas where self-education is viable and common, such as CS, may not be hit by this as hard.

Somewhat related to this article, there is greater participation in the workforce as well. So while there may be a wage gap among workers, it changes considerably when you include the greater number of men earning $0.

Social justice is largely a white self-loathing thing, a perverse way to mark yourself as one of the cultural elite. There's a reason why Amy Chua is the public face of books she cowrites with her white husband. "White guy says that some cultures are better than others" doesn't go over so well. You'll be relegated to selling books through websites owned by Pat Buchanan.

Among social justice academics, Asian success in majority white countries is largely ignored. It upsets the Marxist narrative of oppressor/oppressed, where the oppressors are white and the oppressed are everybody else. In academic circles, "Asian privilege" is considered a myth and an attempt to derail a conversation.

>> Not being an asshole about it works wonders.

> Social justice is largely a white male self-loathing thing

I find it bizarre that anti-white racism from a Marxist perspective is an academic discipline with reputable journals and funded by the federal government in a majority white country. As far as I could tell in university, most of the professors involved were also white. Check out some whiteness studies material some time and be amazed at what people can get tenure for. Asian studies is still about how Asians are oppressed by white culture, only white studies is hostile towards its subject.

I guess my point is that white people are bona fide official second class citizens, as classified by taxpayer funded research. Asians aren't given special privileges like other minorities, but neither is their success considered evidence of oppression.

It's pretty bullshit a posteriori as well.

You seem to have a bad attitude going into it. If you have thoughts and feeling and you can explain your position when 'under attack' then you need not be worried about such things. If you think people discredit your opinions because of your penis then you are wrong. I am not saying that discrediting your opinions is a good thing or valid way of discussing things but the reason for it is not your genitalia, it is because male, female, trans etc all have very different experiences of how society reacts/treats their gender or sexuality. Some people may get agitated when they hear someone who is not in their situation, talking about their situation. But that is because of their past experiences and if you provide a comprehensive explanation of your beliefs, then there is no reason for you to worry about how people react to you, because you will know you have been understood. Some people are quick to throw opinions around without reason and it means people like you become afraid to voice yours. If you focus on what you are trying to say then it will contribute to a discussion and if it descends into something you did not expect (a twitter witch hunt?) then you know that you have articulated yourself in such a precise and intricate manner and you know your remarks cannot be taken incorrectly.

It's not really. Dishing out the previous trend on hn about women needing handicap still removed merit from all the serious, hard working women. So speaking up is in the best interest of the ones not willing to compromise the achieved equality for a little easier ride in the short term.

I agree with the decision to leave "makes the same career choices" out of the equation, but I think people have to admit a lot of those "choices" aren't free from gender based social pressure. My wife's attitude going into parenthood was that she was going to "parent like a father." This was a necessary consequence of us both maintaining busy careers, but I have to say that I make out a lot better in peoples' eyes for doing the same level of parenting. I take the night feedings? I'm some sort of wizard dad. She prepares the lunch for daycare? Why doesn't she make this or that toddler puree? When a stranger glares for our daughter not wearing socks in the cold (I swear she had them on when we left the house!), its never at me, always her. As a result, she's racking up a non-trivial amount of working mom guilt. She doesn't want to mommy track her career, but it irritates her that if she did people would support her decision in a way they wouldn't if I did the same.

As someone who will be in the same position as your wife not too far from now, this is both good to know and frustrating. Have you ever had people refer to your taking care of the kids as "baby sitting"? I've heard that one is common.

That sort of comment just sets the bar low for what's expected of me. Meanwhile, my wife wants to be perceived as a good parent too, but she can't get too invested in that because she can't reconcile her career with all the baby wearing/toddler puree/breastfeeding until two stuff that's the benchmark in her circle of mommy friends.

I posted this in another thread, but it's valid here as well: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09279.pdf

Basically, in a study of federal workers, a 7% unexplained gap exists between male and female worker's wages when controlling for occupational, experiential and educational differences, among other things.

Especially relevant data is on pages 84-86.

(edited for clarity)

So what if there was sexist reasons why women weren't going into certain professions? That's consistant with your claim.

That's entirely possible, but it's not really what we're talking about. The women that don't get the job because of discrimination don't play into the wage gap because position is controlled for.

Discrimination is an important discussion in general, but most of the time it's extremely hard to prove that someone didn't get a job because the hiring officer was prejudiced. This wage gap stuff is easier to quantify and is a visible problem to solve.

It is misleading to say "Oh women get paid the same for the same work in tech", which implies there is no sexism, while acknologing that there could be sexism which keeps women out of well paid jobs.

But I didn't say that.

I said there's a 7% unexplained gap in salary amongst government workers, implying that even controlling for most factors salary discrimination still exists.

At least it's no longer an integer multiple difference between male and female wages.

But why would we ever expect them to be 0% different? Recall that natural unemployment is ~3%. The market and real world are not perfectly efficient and making them perfectly efficient would make them less efficient in the process.

Yeah, sorry I wasn't more clear; specifically the difference is one of wages, not overall employment level.

I wouldn't expect uncontrolled wages to be entirely equal. I would expect that eventually controlling for employment history, experience, education etc. would make the difference approach zero, though. I think that'd be good.

Very poor methodology. The study only looked at first year salaries and the author extrapolated from there. Totally invalid.

It's not a poor methodology if you are simply measuring starting salaries only, or if salaries never increase. But it is reckless to make a bold declaration that "there is no gender gap in tech salaries" based on this data.

I don't think it's hard for people to imagine that there is less variance in starting salaries. Reading into this data and thinking it applies to anything beyond that is a guess and should be treated as such with that guess being tested in future studies.

Even if you demonstrate there is no wage discrimination over the course of people's careers, it doesn't account for the huge gender gap in the industry.

Right, it was the blogger who made the error. Very poor reporting, I should say.

"7% gender gap in starting tech salaries" would have been a fairer headline.

Yes, exactly. I fully believe that there isn't much discrimination in tech at the entry-level. On the other hand, after 20 years in the industry, I have never seen a woman promoted internally. I have seen women climb up the ladder by changing jobs, getting recruited into a higher position, but women never seem to get picked internally to go into senior engineer or team leader positions. That has got to have a major impact on salary by the end of a woman's career.

This is actually quite flawed. The correlations between starting salary and continuing salary (at the same company) is close for large and meaningful data partitions. You can glean some of the indights (if you don't have firsthand experience, if you do...this is obvious) from something like this study. The TLDR is that adverse starting points are meaningful for explaining career earnings anomoly.


One thing that is interesting is that "their sample was restricted to those under 35 years old receiving a first bachelor’s degree".

I wonder how how it would look after that age range.

I am guessing from my anecdotal experience that most professional women usually wait until around that sort of age to have children, and how much having children is a factor in gaining higher salaries.

In addition to that, I am guessing that people early in their careers are less likely to negotiate salary. I certainly was. Now I have a fair bit of experience, I can see that I am more knowledgeable and valuable than some of my colleagues, and so I am in a position to negotiate, with good reasons to back it up. Graduating in the dot-com bust, I was happy just to get a job after nearly a year and a half of searching. I didn't feel I was in any position to negotiate then.

> Regression analysis was used to estimate wage differences, after controlling for the following choices and characteristics: graduates’ occupation, economic sector, hours worked, employment status (having multiple jobs as opposed to one full-time job), months unemployed since graduation, grade point average, undergraduate major, kind of institution attended, age, geographical region, and marital status.

The problem with controlling for all those things is that you leave out other factors; for example, if men were preferentially hired over women, that wouldn't show up in this data.

That's true, but we're talking about equal pay for equal work.

Such a case would definitely be discrimination, it just wouldn't be germane.

I think it's wonderful that it's uncommon for there to be a gap in salaries based on gender. This is something I've paid close attention to over the past 8 years. My wife and I are both software developers with roughly the same level of experience and expertise. So far it seems like the person with the highest salary is usually the one that most recently changed jobs, since negotiating a new salary is much easier then negotiating a large raise.

IMO, this is all about the tech market being more about skills than seniority.

My wife was out on unpaid leave for nearly two years when we had our first child. That meant that she missed two salary scale steps, which are earned based on satisfactory performance over a period of at least 1,500 paid hours/year. In her case, that means that a male who started the same day as her makes approximately $2,500 more than her, assuming the same career path. (She started at level-x and is at level-x+y.)

For a nurse, or techie, salary is driven by the market in most cases.

If you're doing such a comparison, then it points towards a salary system that's working as it should, but a disbalance in gender roles in childcare - which can be fixed not by changes to salaries, but by changes in childcare policies such as those successfully implemented by Sweden and others, where male nurses in similar situation as your wife would take time off comparable to female nurses. They'd still be behind childless workers, though.

That's how it works, if your family is more valuable to you than your career, then you'd be happy with getting more family at the tradeoff of less career - and that explains why the positions at the very top get a disproportionally large number of divorces/etc - if someone is consistently neglecting family because of their career, then they do get to the top easier than someone who'd sometimes actually prefer going home to their kids.

My article in Quartz didn't address all of the reasons women earn less than men do because of space constraints. Also, the article was discussing new research on pay equality in STEM fields, with a summary on gender wage gap as background.

It is interesting to discuss whether there is more pay equality in STEM fields, specifically engineering, because females in these fields are also more comfortable with (and better at) negotiating higher salaries for themselves. At the moment there isn't research to suggest this but it could be a contributing factor.

- @NinjaEconomics

Looks like there's a 6.6% salary gap?

"When controlled for all factors other than gender, the earnings difference between men and women is about 6.6%, something most people don’t know."

That's across all occupations.

Mildly ridiculous to draw the line at35 though, which will be around the time a lot of high performing women will have kids.

If a person, male or female, takes some significant amount of time off work, for any reason, should that person continue to accrue seniority, be considered for raises and promotion, equally to colleagues who didn't take the time off, who were working and contributing?

Strip the gender politics out of it and the answer is very obviously no.

That's my point really; women are still expected to bear the brunt of child rearing, so pay the financial penalty. Cf Norwegian policies and smaller gender pay gap.

Women aren't expected to do anything; the proof is that birth rates are falling all across the developed world.

Consider two women, A doesn't want children and B does. How do you think A will feel having worked hard for a year while B was on maternity leave, only to find that B's seniority etc has kept up with zero effort or contribution to the company on her part?

But three is a gender distribution that is of the charts.

I think there is, but I can't prove it. I have anecdotes about specific companies, and some companies are viciously sexist while others aren't. Most of the sexism comes from the mainstream business culture (what I sometimes call "MBA culture" but that's not entirely fair because some MBAs are fine) and not from tech itself. (Brogrammers are trying to be ballers, not hackers.) The more "corporate" a tech company is, the more it will be sexist. Often this isn't overt, so much as an artifact; women get the shaft not because of explicit sexism but because they don't negotiate for themselves or elbow their way on to the best projects.

Regression analysis was used to estimate wage differences, after controlling for the following choices and characteristics: graduates’ occupation, economic sector, hours worked, employment status (having multiple jobs as opposed to one full-time job), months unemployed since graduation, grade point average, undergraduate major, kind of institution attended, age, geographical region, and marital status.

That's really misleading. Some of those variables at least might have gender baked into them. For one example, let's say that women are more likely to have longer unemployment spells after college. (I don't know if this is true.) Then there could be zero gender correlation in the model not because there is none, but because that input factors it out.

With 11 variables, some of those being categories, you're going to almost certainly have "small data" issues on real world datasets, where the inputs (empirical "design matrix") are not even remotely orthogonal. So pardon me if I don't buy it.

The issue isn't that companies explicitly choose to pay women poorly. It's that many tech companies end up with shitty cultures that exclude women, which leaves them out of the loop and causes them to end up on shitty projects. It doesn't happen by intention. The leadership of most tech companies is criminally negligent on a lot of cultural issues, but not explicitly sexist.

ETA: it's also worth pointing out the "women don't negotiate" argument. I think this is because they get worse results. My wife is a better negotiator than I am, in terms of skill level, but whenever we have to haggle on the price of something, I go out... and I often get more, not because I am better, but because a 6' male is more intimidating.

Are we still discussing the whole women vs men in tech thingy? I miss when HN used to discuss real issues.

Yes, just statistical gaps in who gets those salaries.

Wake me when there's justice.

In the coder freelancing world, women easily command higher wages than men do (and with reason). Easy proof is that there seem to be a lot of female freelancer profiles on sites like odesk.com, but most of them hide a man behind them (just try to make them do a voice call). Because guys know women are better paid. I have never heard of reverse.

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