It’s an oft-discussed topic in general terms, but rarely do we see people talking specifically about how much money they make. On May 1, International Worker’s Day, people are sharing their salaries to Twitter with the hashtag #TalkPay in an effort to highlight pay inequality and encourage salary transparency.
#TalkPay began as an effort from computer programmer Lauren Voswinkel. In an article for Model View Culture, Voswinkel wrote, “The lack of knowledge regarding reasonable salaries and predatory behaviors in tech companies can be directly attributed to the social taboo surrounding people talking openly about their salaries.”
Pay inequality is not just a problem in technology, but in industries everywhere. Women earn 78 cents per dollar white men earn, and for women of color that discrepancy is even worse—Hispanic and Latina women earn 54% of what white men are paid, and African American women earn 64%, according to data from the American Association for University Women.
Following Voswinkel’s lead, tech workers began tweeting their salaries, including historical pay data from jobs and companies going back years. It’s an illuminating look at the differences between gender, race, and career history.
2011-2012: QA Engineer $50K
2012: Social Media Manager $40K
2013: Creative Strategist $65K#TalkPay
— Amber Discko (@amberdiscko) May 1, 2015
#talkpay My base salary was $95,000/yr at Google. Highest for my ladder/level but still ~$20K less than other eng ladders at the same level.
— EricaJoy (@EricaJoy) May 1, 2015
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF #talkpay
— iroc the vote for bernie (@iroc) May 1, 2015
#talkpay i work for yelp (sf, remote) as, like, imagine indiana jones but for legacy code
been here 3 years, 3ish exp before this
— eevee (@eevee) May 1, 2015
#talkpay $63,600 as a (non-faculty) developer at a public university, with five years private-sector experience (at $80 -> $120k in 2013)
— quantitative wheezing (@vogon) May 1, 2015
looks like #talkpay is getting started early. another white-cis-male dev in SF datapoint: $148k on a Berkeley CS degree and five years exp
— 🏳️🌈 Sam Kimbrel (@skimbrel) May 1, 2015
So to #talkpay I'm a node.js Developer for PayPal with 20 years experience (open source) in Boston. — $160k
— Mx. Aria Stewart (@aredridel) May 1, 2015
My 1st developer job was $11/hr 13yrs ago. 2 years ago my salary was over $150k. Now as a founder I make a tiny fraction of that :) #talkpay
— Sara Ownbey Chipps (@SaraJChipps) May 1, 2015
Since rebooting my career in 2010 to become a freelance ruby developer, I averaged ~$55K per year. On target for $85K+ this year. #talkpay
— Prakash Murthy (@_prakash) May 1, 2015
— Darius Kazemi (@tinysubversions) May 1, 2015
Though the conversation centered around tech, people from other industries began sharing their salaries, too.
Oh & since #talkpay grew from tech pay convos… at Valleywag in 2008 I was paid $1200-$1500/month for 3 shortish posts per day.
— Melissa Gira Grant (@melissagira) May 1, 2015
As a middle school teacher, I started at $28,825 and ended at $32,225. I spent most of my spare cash on supplies for my kids. #talkpay cont.
— Yael Grauer (@yaelwrites) May 1, 2015
Hundreds of people are contributing to the #TalkPay hashtag on Twitter. And while some of the tweets contain salary data, others describe what makes it difficult to talk about in the first place.
I'll start with some hard truth for #talkpay. The reason it's hard for me is not because I don't feel comfortable or safe.
— Marco Rogers (@polotek) May 1, 2015
— This is Not an Overreaction (@mudlock) May 1, 2015
Voswinkel says that in order to eliminate bias and pay inequality, people must have open and profound discussions about it, not only within companies, but publicly, too. Friday’s #talkpay discussion is one way to begin that conversation—and hopefully, begin to change things for the better.
Photo via U.S Embassy Tel Aviv/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)