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Women in Silicon Valley Face a Massive Equity Gap

A first-of-its-kind study shows that women hold only 47¢ for every dollar of equity men do.

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Illustration: Rose Wong for Bloomberg Businessweek
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The young woman was excited to get an offer at Lyft Inc., one of Silicon Valley’s biggest venture-backed private companies, until she compared notes with one of her friends. He’d received about the same salary for the same software engineering job she’d been offered at the same experience level, but he got twice as many company stock options. When the young woman asked for additional equity, her recruiter said the offer was standard and non-negotiable, so she took the job. A few months in, she asked some colleagues hired at the same level about their options grants, and all of the dozen or so men she surveyed had double her equity, too. When she asked her manager for an increase, she quickly got it.

“I felt really undervalued,” says the woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “I felt this sense of injustice and frustration. Although I didn’t have the information I needed to get this number changed, someone else did, and someone should have raised a red flag.” Lyft spokesman Adrian Durbin said in a statement that the company is committed to equal pay and urges employees to voice concerns. “Though rare, when unintended pay discrepancies are identified, we address and correct them,” he said.