News and Commentary

THE REAL WAGE GAP: Google Finds More Male Employees Underpaid Than Women When Performing Similar Tasks

In a finding sure to shock those who claim that women are systemically underpaid, Google discovered through an internal company study that among men and women performing similar tasks, more men than women were underpaid.

The New York Times reports that after Google discovered the disparity, the company paid out $9.7 million in additional compensation to 10,677 employees, with what the Times called a “disproportionately higher percentage of the money” going to men.

The times notes that the study was conducted while Google has been targeted by a Labor Department investigation into gender pay inequality and a potential class-action lawsuit from women claiming they have been paid disproportionately less than men at the company.

Lauren Barbato, Google’s lead analyst for pay equity who presented the result of the study, stated in a blog post, “We know that’s only part of the story, Because leveling, performance ratings, and promotion impact pay, this year, we are undertaking a comprehensive review of these processes to make sure the outcomes are fair and equitable for all employees.” She also added that discovering men were systemically underpaid was a “surprising trend that we didn’t expect.”

The study examined 91% of Google’s employees and compared their compensation.

In 2017, James Damore, a software engineer for Google’s diversity programs, contended that the reason there were less women in some upper-tier positions could be attributed to biological differences. He was fired after positing his stance in a memo.

Damore wrote:

I’m not saying that all men differ from all women in the following ways or that these differences are “just.” I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.

He added, “I’m also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I’m advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).”

Although Damore clearly stated, “I value diversity and inclusion,” and spent an entire section of his memo devoted to “non-discriminatory ways to reduce the gender gap,” he was fired, triggering a firestorm of criticism targeting Google, and not just from conservatives on the outside of the company.

Business Insider pointed out that a survey conducted by Blind heartily disagreed with Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s decision to fire Damore. Pichai had made the claim that the “vast majority” of Google employees were “very supportive of our decision” to fire Damore. He emailed Google’s employees, “Over the past two days, I have had the chance to meet with so many people here, and I have read each of your emails carefully. The vast majority of you are very supportive of our decision.”

But as The Daily Wire reported at the time, “Not only are employees across Silicon Valley ‘deeply divided’ over Google’s decision to fire an employee for voicing dissent on the company’s ‘diversity’ policies, a majority of the Google employees surveyed say they oppose the CEO’s decision.”