8 min read


regardless, since #talkpay originally dropped back in 2015 (source), its a holiday that I feel is worth noting and so I gathered a hodge podge of comments, studies, and related screenshots to cobble some kind of stream-of-consciousness post together...

I had marvelous machinations to drop a well-crafted data infographic blog post in honor of May Day breaking down my wages since entering the tech industry and uh life and my executive dysfunction (and COVID) had some other plans

regardless, since #talkpay originally dropped back in 2015 (source), its a holiday that I feel is worth noting and so I gathered a hodge podge of comments, studies, and related screenshots to cobble some kind of stream-of-consciousness post together...

away we go!

journal snippet from my short stint as a data entry contractor

my manager had me filling out my timecards and I saw how much Century Link was paying the contractor firm and I lost it. Out of $25 I was seeing $13 (a step up from minimum wage but if this work was worth $25 an hour I can’t even)

^ I'm not a great grammarian but feels disingenuous to passive voice this instead of active voice "Companies/Male Leaders short women in pay negotiations" since women aren't really represented in the upper echelons of corporations

AND ALSO noting that if they based this data purely on the "average" or focused on white cis-women then....the data is inaccurate and missing critical context faceted by race.

Overall, women earned about $.82 for every dollar men earned; Hispanic or Latina women earned about $.58 and Black women earned about $.63 for every dollar White men earned (source)

Look at that fucking gap Β 
- "overall"women Β .82 Β 
- Black women .63 (-.19)
- Hispanic/Latina women .58 (-.24)

how about we stop using averages hmm? they're already a crap measurement to get a nuanced understanding of latency and here again they cover up key details

The employee survey question that should be included in everything

(as long as responses are anonymized and folks can't be penalized)

I feel I receive a fair share of the profits made by this organization

^ I was fortunate enough to work somewhere that asked that and tbh props to them, showed that their commitment to pay equity wasn't entirely lip service and they did care enough to suss out employee feels vs saying "we eliminated pay bands, no more pay equity woo we did it!" and calling it a day

Livin' that Portland PNW life

long, loooong, gone are the days that crustpunks and artists could afford to live inside the city limits of Portland.

in fact I remember as a Full Time PeopleOps Coordinator working for the most prominent SaaS company in Portland and not being able to afford the city. A friend and I moved out to very end of the yellow MAX line but I was actively looking for work and was about to move back to Phoenix to work for a car/tech company just so I could afford luxuries like a dishwasher and a washer/dryer and dinner. instead I found out I was accepted into code school and that changed my entire trajectory

for those companies that use the Radford db which STILL undercuts PDX and claims Seattle is just sooo much more expensive and needs higher wages (when cough cough WA has no income tax) is maddening 😀😀😀😀😀 take a peep at this headline from last spring

  • also as a former recruiting coordinator I have BIG LOVE for PeopleOps and it takes a lot for me to have words with a recruiter. the one time I can remember getting worked up was when I was given a low-ball offer and the recruiter kept repeating their party line which was "we pay other people in pdx that wage and they are perfectly happy with it"......πŸ™„ for years when I heard of women joining that company I reached out to ask if they were happy with their compensation and offered words of warning based on my experience.  

^ and yes I am a part of this problem, and no it doesn't matter that I committed to a remote work life years before the pandemic. It is why I am very happy to pay for the Preschool for All tax, Library taxes, and the fabled PDX Arts Tax among others.

Millennial Wealth (somewhat of an oxymoron)

like the women's pay gap - being able to facet generational wealth by race shows that there is MAJOR work to do and why it is important for white people to not base your sensors of "are things OK" on your personal and very limited perspective

tbh this article from NPR focused on millennials but if we are primed to be "a lost generation" what in the world does that mean for Gen Z (and whatever we're calling the gen after them?)

Yes I Actually Do Have An Engineering Degree, No I Don't Think Its Necessary in Software

and to put a cherry on top I am the "proud" holder of not just a Bachelors of Science in engineering but... a B.S. in Engineering Management. While management and leadership are developed over years of experience I have no issue saying that I was more qualified to manage SRE teams than most of the guys that have (mis)managed me over the years.

let's turn our focus to a key issue holding many back from reaching financial stability - student loans

what a headline

I don't think an eng degree is necessary to become a productive, brilliant member of technical pursuits. Especially not with the abundance of self-serve multimedia learning resources.

However, there are many many jobs and fields that benefit from undergraduate and post-graduate studies - like the "real" engineers, the one who design bridges and buildings and machinery. Or health sciences and research! So many!

So its worth the US getting its shit together and figuring out how to take classism out of college and embrace the affordable options via junior college/community college (PCC is legit amazing) and also cut down on excessive spending, giant administrative machines, keeping ineffective teachers on tenure, and so much more.

lolsob I started college in 2010...right when undergrad debt went way way up and to the right

I graduated with somewhere north of $40,000 in federal student loan debt, from a university in Spokane, WA.

I was "lucky" to receive that discounted the overall total

  • work-study job that paid at least minimum wage (I can't remember)
  • scholarships because I attended a Catholic high school and the uni was Jesuit a branch of Catholicism
  • scholarships for good grades

When faced with $900 a credit hour you start to have high expectations of your professors and the quality of your education. Uni feels like the one place where the $ you spend as a consumer gives you no leverage against the company..uh I mean college.

Am I done paying off my student loans?

No. I have about $4500 left after about ~6y of working in tech (and there was a rapid payback I had to do for the code school loan which was ~$22,000 back in 2016-2017)

Has making tech money including ridonkulous base salaries, RSUs that were worth actual $$, an acquisition that turned a modest amount of options into actual $$, and sign-on bonuses meant there is light at the end of my tunnel?


OK...so time to #TalkPay

if you were around these parts last year you already know about my Radical Sabbatical and how I turned down $225,000 base to stick to my morals and pursue an inclusive workplace

here's a snapshot of my base salary over the years starting with PeopleOps Coordinator salary (after lobbying for months to get converted from contractor -> FT aaand bringing my counterparts in SF along for the ride :) )

2019 I left that company after getting some SWE experience under my belt and started as an SRE. $14,000 base bump

2020 I left ^ that company ^ for another. $9,000 base bump followed by a $5,000 raise which management acted like was the biggest gift in the world instead of a normal COLA (despite me never getting one red cent of a bonus the SWEs saw)

2021 I left ^ that company ^ after burning out the first time (yes sometimes it takes me a bit to learn my lesson fully) $33,000 base bump

2022 after a comp adjustment from mis-titling and mis-leveling in the HR system (reminder to verify this stuff - I only found out because I specifically asked bc I was already suspicious about ~3mo in) $10,000 base bump

after legit burning out and needing to take a sabbatical I rethought my needs to live a fulfilling life where work wasn't draining every bit of energy and empathy I had I took a pay cut to $140,000 for a role that seemed less stressful than SRE (I was wrong)

2023 I left ^ that company^ for the second time and landed in my current gig back at $180,000 base and there is no on-call!!! No one told me you could make Big Money in marketing!! What the heck y'all?! Also I have a bonus and options plan which is nice. Bonuses are great!

(granted I am in the "levi's jeans" of SaaS tooling - observability which is as essential as having smoke detectors in your house so a bit of an anomaly I'm assuming)

Rich People...Are We OK? Studies say No...

There's a lot I could say about how my relationship to money and my worldview has been affected by making absurd amounts in base salary and the many studies that rich people are in fact, not okay

however this feels like a good time to wrap up this post and I think I'll pour this remaining energy into a blog post about how we approach profit-sharing within an artists co-op over on Ethical Yarn Community which is where I spend almost every Thursday afternoon thanks to unlimited PTO and a manager who supports me!