Google says it's underpaying male software engineers: 5 notes

Google shared surprising findings March 4 from its annual study on pay equity: Men who are Level 4 software engineers were paid less than women in the same job category.

Five things to know about the findings:

1. Google has conducted a pay equity analysis since 2012 to ensure pay is fair across gender and racial groups. If it finds disparities in pay across demographics, it eliminates them by making upward pay adjustments. After its 2018 analysis, it paid 10,677 employees $9.7 million in adjustments.

2. The pay gap for Level 4 software engineers was due to "discretionary funding." Wired notes that Google managers can allocate discretionary funding to individual employees. These allocations account for the differences in pay found by the analysis, rather than gaps in salary, equity or bonuses.

3. Wired reports Google chose to highlight the male pay gap because it was counterintuitive. Wired also notes, however, that the findings are timely: Google is currently under federal investigation and a lawsuit for systematically underpaying female employees.

4. Critics told The New York Times that the company may not be "leveling," or assigning employees to the pay grade corresponding to their qualifications from the outset. This is the subject of the lawsuit against Google. One former software engineer, Kelly Ellis, alleges she was hired as an entry-level engineer when she had four years of experience, while a male employee with similar experience was hired to the level above her, a position with greater compensation. The lawsuit includes three plaintiffs and could become a class-action suit.

5. Google plans to begin leveling this year, beginning with a "levelling equity analysis" for new hires to determine if there are ways to improve new employee job placement, according to a blog post from Lauren Barbato, lead analyst for pay equity at Google.


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