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Microsoft CEO apologizes to women

October 10, 2014

Microsoft's chief executive officer has unleashed a torrent of criticism on social media over his comments that women in tech should not ask for pay raises. But he quickly apologized, saying he was "completely wrong."

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
Image: Getty Images

Microsoft's chief executive officer apologized on Thursday for suggesting women in the technology sector should not ask for pay raises but trust in the "system."

At an event earlier in the day that centered on women in computing, Satya Nadella said: "It's not really about asking for the raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along."

But in an industry that overwhelmingly employs men, his remarks quickly drew criticism on social media.

Nadella continued to say that "good karma" would ensure women were compensated fairly for their work. His interviewer at the event, Maria Klawe, the president of Harvey Mudd College and a Microsoft director, drew applause when she said Nadella's viewpoint was "one of the very few things that I disagree with you on."

Nadella later tried to stem the damage in a memo to employees that Microsoft posted on its website. He also responded on his own Twitter account.

"I answered the question completely wrong," Nadella said in the memo. "If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask."

Of Microsoft's more than 100,000 employees, only 29 percent are female. The company's technical and engineering staff is made up of only 17 percent women.

Criticized for their lack of diversity, many tech firms have said they are trying to solve the problem by spearheading training sessions for employees or taking part in initiatives aimed at supporting women who want to learn coding.

cjc/uhe (Reuters, AP)

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