Why Women Shouldn’t Ask for a Raise

Microsoft CEO Satya Nedella this week took heat for making a very un-PC statement at a women’s tech conference (of all places) that women should not ask for raises and instead trust “Karma” to get them the money they deserve.


Microsoft’s workforce is 71% male, a figure that rises to 83% for both technical and leadership roles. Those figures are roughly in line with the gender breakdown at Google,FacebookYahoo and Apple.

In my own company I’m happy to report the gender balance is much more 50/50, yet on the leadership team until I joined there was only one woman. Now there are two. While we’re not a big company like Microsoft or Apple or Facebook, I’m proud that I work in one of the more diverse (at least gender-wise) companies in tech.

That said, you can bet I played hardball coming into the job in terms of comp because I knew exactly what I was worth and what I was going to give to the organization. Well, basically I rationalized my comp and pushing for it as whoever is in the role actually delivering what the role needs right now deserved that comp, therefore if I did the role justice I deserved the comp and if I didn’t then I’d be gone anyway – I rather negotiate with confidence in myself and what I can bring to the company vs just accept that I deserve whatever is offered below what the role is worth.

Every time I go into a negotiation in my career I get a little bolder, a little braver, a little less worried that I’ll lose the opportunity if I push for what is deserved… and what is deserved is really what the market will bear, within reason. Once you get to a point in your career where you’re a specialist you can ask for a little more if that specialty is relevant to your new role.

However asking for raises has never been a favorite thing of mine to do – that’s one of the reasons I’m getting so ballsy in the first negotiation before I sign a contract. I did well this time around but know what I negotiated is equal to what I’m worth if I can deliver (which I plan to do.)

I can’t believe the CEO of Microsoft made those dumb ass comments. Of course he recanted likely with the help of the PR team kindly asking him “what were you thinking?” But the damage is done.  He basically was trying to say that women have long careers if they just don’t ask for raises so eventually they’ll get rewarded. Maybe. That’s bs. Women need to ask for raises and ensure they are paid what they’re worth. I felt like a total asshole during my recent negotiation but still I got what I wanted and now I can focus on the important stuff – my job – vs worrying about whether or not I’m fairly compensated.

Yes I did it for myself – but every time I negotiate now – I also picture myself as just one woman in technology who will hopefully be a VP one day soon, who will help balance out the gender imbalance just a smidgen, inspiring more women to go into technology companies, making the future of tech a little less – manly.



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2 thoughts on “Why Women Shouldn’t Ask for a Raise”

  1. Good for you on negotiating your compensation before accepting an offer. In my experience, it’s always best to negotiate compensation before starting a new job. You never know what can happen after you join. Your boss can change, projects cancelled, roles changed, etc. Good luck in your new role.

  2. Can I offer my thoughts on this as a guy? The whole reaction to Nadella’s comments is only going to make men reluctant to support women in technology. Here you have a male leader in tech stepping out of his element a bit by speaking at a women’s tech conference. He makes comments which, as far as I can tell, weren’t really directed at women in particular but were only assumed to be directed at women specifically because he was speaking at a women’s tech conference. And he gets trashed for it. The only possible outcome for this is that, the next time when a male CEO is invited to support women in tech in some way, he will be reluctant to accept due to Nadella’s experience.

    Note that I disagree with Nadella’s actual advice. I think he is coming from the perspective of a cost cutting CEO and a company going through layoffs. But it’s bad advice. People should ask for raises. I just don’t think it was intended to be sexist. He’d probably say the same thing to a mixed group or a group of men–and it is equally bad advice whether directed at women or men.

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