Advanced Micro Devices’s salary for its new chief executive officer, Lisa Su, is underlining concerns in Silicon Valley over gender inequality in the technology industry.
Su, a 44-year-old Ph.D. who’s held technical positions at International Business Machines and Texas Instruments, will receive an annual salary of $850,000 — less than the $1 million that outgoing CEO Rory Read, 52, earned each year since he started at AMD in 2011. Both executives receive much of their total compensation through bonuses and equity awards. AMD declined to disclose the total value of Su’s pay package.
“It might have been good policy to pay her what her predecessor made, but that’s not the way the world thinks about it today,” says Martha Josephson, a recruiter with Egon Zehnder. “When women aren’t afraid of saying, ‘I want to make what the last guy made,’ then it will start to change.”
AMD declined to comment beyond its statement yesterday, saying, “Rory’s compensation included various incentives common in situations in which a person joins a new company. As a current employee, this was not the case for Lisa.”
Su’s salary details add to a debate over the tech industry’s pay for women. A day after Su was promoted on Oct. 8, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told attendees at a women’s technology conference last week to “trust in the system” — rather than press for raises — and that they would be rewarded with “good karma.” Amid criticism from attendees calling the comments tone-deaf, Nadella issued a statement later that day saying he was “inarticulate” and that the tech industry must “close the pay gap.”
Microsoft pays women less on average than men, according to data from the job-search website Glassdoor. Women at the Redmond, Washington, software giant made 2.54 percent less than men, according to data provided by Microsoft employees to Glassdoor over the last six years. In that time, 372 women and 2,045 men at Microsoft shared their base salary, not including bonuses, stock or other compensation, and Glassdoor compiled the data for Bloomberg.
While the research isn’t comprehensive and is subject to the vagaries of self-reporting, it provides a peek into one piece of the diversity puzzle that tech companies aren’t giving up voluntarily. The average salaries weren't adjusted based on skill level or tenure.
Beyond wage, women are outnumbered at Microsoft, as they are at most large tech companies. Female staff make up 29 percent of Microsoft’s workforce, according to the company’s diversity report. Frank Shaw, a spokesman for Microsoft, declined to comment.
A smaller sample size of fewer than 200 women combined at Facebook, Google and Hewlett-Packard revealed wider pay disparities, according to Glassdoor data. Some companies, such as Facebook, had fewer than a dozen reports, and women earned more than men in certain positions, such as software engineers at Google.
Google declined to comment. In a statement, Facebook says: "The Glassdoor data is flat-out wrong. We regularly review compensation for fairness and have found no differences based on gender for our software engineers." HP said in a statement that the company is "committed to advancing women in technology. We are proud to provide equal pay for equal work."
The companies didn’t share wage information. Scott Dobroski, a Glassdoor spokesman, says the company takes “data integrity incredibly seriously.” He says submissions go through “a multi-tier review process.” Glassdoor says it doesn’t have sufficient data on AMD salaries.
While this can't be considered definitive info on pay practices, it is useful for job applicants trying to figure out how much money to ask for, says Caroline Simard, a gender-pay expert at consulting firm Exponential Talent. "This data gives a window into these company's pay practices, but not the full picture," Simard says.
The inescapable truth, she says, is women start their careers with lower salaries compared with men, and are less likely to get promoted to top jobs. They’re also more likely to have their pay trajectory lowered if they decide to have kids, Simard says.
Women who land a job in the tech industry may be better off than those elsewhere in the country. Full-time female workers earn 77 cents for every dollar paid to men in similar jobs, according to a White House report published in March. A Gallup poll released this week found that women and men both think the pay gap is a pressing issue.
Su’s salary shows that, whether intentional or not, women continue to be paid less than men, says Colleen Lewis, an assistant professor of computer science at Harvey Mudd College.
“Knowing what I know about unintentional, unconscious bias in the workplace, I’m not surprised at all,” Lewis says. “We can’t know if the difference is all due to these biases, but that’s what’s tricky about this: They’re unintentional and unconscious. But we know they do exist.”
—With assistance from Ian King in San Francisco