Power Trip

I Know the Salaries of Thousands of Tech Employees

Pay equity requires transparency, so I’m revealing what I know

Jackie Luo
Published in
7 min readOct 23, 2018


Art by Judson Collier

I’I’m a software engineer with three years of experience, working at Square, a public tech company in San Francisco. I make $130,000, plus $47,500 in stock, for a total of $177,500 a year.

I didn’t negotiate my base salary. I did, however, negotiate my four-year initial stock grant from $150,000 to $190,000. I started my job on February 5. The current value of that grant, which fluctuates by the day, is $412,390.02. If this stock price stays the same until I vest my first year of stock, my “real” annual compensation will be $233,097.51.

Writing all of that terrifies me. Strangers and peers may see what I earn and think I’m vastly overpaid. (“Are you kidding? What does she even do that could justify that kind of money?”) Or they may decide I’m underpaid. (“She must not be good at her job if she’s getting paid that little.”) Inevitably, companies that wish to hire me in the future will see my previous salary and either anchor my future pay at that level, limiting me from pay increases when switching jobs, or opt out of interviewing me at all out of fear that I’ll be too expensive for them.

So why share these numbers? Because we need to talk more about how much we get paid. Fair compensation starts with greater transparency.

TToday, gender, race, class, and countless other identifiers play into systemic biases in the tech industry. A 2018 Hired report found that men in tech are offered higher pay than women for the same role in the same company 63 percent of the time. Fifty-four percent of women in tech have reported that they were paid less than a peer of another gender in the same role.

But there’s reason to be optimistic that honest conversations about pay can close this gap. Sixty-six percent of people who became aware of a pay disparity only learned about it by talking to a co-worker about compensation.

The real wealth in Silicon Valley is generated through equity.

Often, when people talk about compensation—what to accept, what to reject, how to negotiate—the advice is “know…