Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
Microsoft CEO Satya NadellaMicrosoft

Microsoft's pay practices and attitude towards women will likely be taken up at the board level, after CEO Satya Nadella was severely criticised for his remark that women should not ask for raises but trust that the system will take care of them.

Woman director, Maria Klawe, who immediately disagreed with Nadella, told Reuters in a telephonic interview that Microsoft's attitude towards women is now open to question and it could be a point of discussion at board meeting.

"He blew that question. He's retracted it. I think it's going to take us all to a better place. I'm pretty sure he's going to be thinking really hard about pay equity," Klawe said.

Klawe said she has been pressing for hiring and promoting women at Microsoft since she joined the board five years ago, but the issue of pay raises for women had not been discussed by the board.

The issue of gender pay gap has become a hot debate topic after Nadella's statement.

"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," Nadella said during the event, the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

"Because that's good karma. It'll come back because somebody's going to know that's the kind of person that I want to trust."

Klawe immediately opposed Nadella, saying the viewpoint was "one of the very few things that I disagree with you on."

Subsequently, Nadella faced widespread criticism over his statement on the social media.

Later in an email to Microsoft employees, he admitted that he was completely wrong.

"I answered that question completely wrong. Without a doubt I wholeheartedly support programs at Microsoft and in the industry that bring more women into technology and close the pay gap," he wrote.

Despite having had a steady increase in the number of female employees since its inception, Microsoft has been criticised as a "boys' club." Surveys revealed that men tend to earn more doing a similar job than women at Microsoft.

In the technology sector, men earn 24% more, on average, than women, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In addition, the number of women in leading positions at tech companies is very less compared to men.

Microsoft's 15-strong senior leadership team has three women: CFO Amy Hood; Lisa Brummel, head of human resources; and Peggy Johnson, head of business development.

Its board of 12 also has three women: former Wall Street banker Dina Dublon; Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College; and Teri List-Stoll, CFO of Kraft Foods Group.