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By | Gavin Clarke 13th October 2014 10:18

Nadella's Karmagate howler was response to MICROSOFT BOARD DIRECTOR – report

Firm to take hard look at pay culture, says Maria Klawe

Satya Nadalla’s Karmagate will spark an examination at the highest levels within Microsoft of women’s pay and its corporate culture.

That’s according to computer scientist Maria Klawe, the person whose softball questioning of Microsoft’s CEO at a women-in-tech event saw Nadella land himself in hot water last week.

Klawe is reported to have told Reuters that pay practices and attitudes to women are “still open to question” at the software giant and that they “will be likely be taken up at the board level".

Klawe joined Microsoft as a board director five years ago and believes the issue of pay rises for women has not been discussed by her senior colleagues.

“I suspect it might be now,” she told Reuters.

She was speaking following the backlash against Nadella following the comments he made at a women in tech event hosted by Klawe last week.

At the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing last week, Klawe asked Nadella to give his advice for women uncomfortable asking for pay rises.

“That might be one of the initial ‘super powers,’ that quite frankly women [who] don’t ask for a raise have,” came the jaw-dropping reply. “It’s good karma. It will come back.”

He said women should have faith in the system to see them right.

Nadella afterwards proceeded to backtrack on Twitter and via PR, saying he’d been “inarticulate” while also championing work to close the gender pay gap.

But Klawe, a former dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton, wasn’t buying it in her conversation with Reuters. “He blew that question," she told the wire. "He's retracted it. I think it's going to take us all to a better place. I'm pretty sure he's going to be thinking really hard about pay equity."

Klawe, a long-time campaigner for women in tech - is one of three women on Microsoft’s 12-person board of directors. The others are Kraft Foods Group chief financial officer Teri List-Stoll, who was appointed in September and took her seat at the start of this month and Dina Dublon – who is also on the boards of PepsiCo and Accenture and is the former chief financial officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

It was Klawe, currently the president of the liberal Harvey Mudd College, who personally persuaded Nadella to attend her institution’s Grace Hopper event last week. He is the first man to headline the annual event, which celebrates women's achievement in computing. ®

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