Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recommends that not asking for a pay raise is "good karma" for women, leading bosses to trust them and give them more responsibility.
Nadella's remarks did not, however, go down well with the audience and the interviewer Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College and a Microsoft director, who told him she disagreed, citing her own experience. A large number of people on Twitter also expressed their disapproval.
Nadella was speaking Thursday at the Grace Hopper Conference on women in computing in Phoenix, Arizona.
"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," he answered, according to the webcast of the interview. He added that women who do not ask for raises could have additional superpowers, because that's good karma that would pay back in trust from the boss and greater responsibility.
Nadella later tweeted that he had been "inarticulate re how women should ask for raise."
"Our industry must close gender pay gap so a raise is not needed because of a bias," he added.
In a letter to employees, Nadella said that he had answered the question "completely wrong."
"I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work," Nadella wrote. "And when it comes to career advice on getting a raise when you think it's deserved, Maria's advice was the right advice. If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask."
Recent reports on employee diversity made public by tech companies suggest that males dominate in the workplace. Microsoft said recently that 71 percent of its worldwide staff was male at the end of September.