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'Re/code Decode': Erica Baker Talks About Her Grand Google Salary Transparency Experiment

Also on the show: The dangers of drones and the acceleration of car software.

Vjeran Pavic / Re/code

Growing up in Alaska, Erica Baker loved playing with computers. Her father was a mechanic in the military, and Baker was drawn to putting stuff together and taking it apart.

In 2006, when Baker went to work for Google in Atlanta, her analytical instincts made her a natural fit at a company famed for encouraging its workers to tinker and experiment. Kind of.

On this week’s episode of the "Re/code Decode" podcast, Baker, who’s now an engineer at Slack, tells Kara Swisher about one experiment of hers that Google management didn’t really love. Baker assembled a spreadsheet where Googlers could enter their salary information, and thousands of her coworkers responded enthusiastically. Baker’s bosses? Not so much.

"People were happy to discuss it, happy the information was out there," Baker said about most of her colleagues. Her bosses, on the other hand, withheld the "peer bonuses" ($150 rewards Googlers can give coworkers for cool ideas unrelated to their main jobs) she was awarded for the spreadsheet.

On the show, Baker also discussed what it’s like to be perceived as "the angry black lady" in the tech industry, the alleged "pipeline" problem ("The ‘pipeline’ is garbage") and what tech executives can do to make Silicon Valley a more inclusive space. Later on, Lauren Goode discusses drone dos and don’ts on the "Too Embarrassed to Ask" segment and Ina Fried explains the new software coming to cars and gives details about our upcoming Code/Mobile conference (for which you can register here).

If you like what you hear on "Re/code Decode," you can also head over to "Re/code Replay," an archive of audio content from our events and interviews by Kara Swisher, Walt Mossberg, Peter Kafka, Ina Fried and more. We’ve already published about 30 episodes from past events, including all of the Code 2015 sessions, and we’ll add more over time.

Every episode of each show will be available in two places: On our site at and on Apple iTunes (here for "Re/code Decode" and here for "Re/code Replay"). We’ll be adding more distributors soon and new episodes weekly. And you can follow @recode on Twitter for updates on upcoming guests.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and if you don’t, just strafe Kara on Twitter. You can also suggest guests for the show there and we’ll try our level best to nab them for a Red Chair interview.

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