Using Data to Close the Wage Gap

The Hariri Institute for Computing at Boston University received praise for a project concerning secure multi-party analytics in a recent On Point segment for National Public Radio, titled “Will Data Help Close the Gender Pay Gap?”

Tom Ashbrook, host of the popular radio show, interviewed former Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, Evelyn Murphy, on her current work with the Boston Mayor’s Women’s Workforce Council. The Council is currently focused on working with salary data from individual companies in order to see the how companies who work to eliminate their wage gap measure up to others in the same industry.

The Hariri Institute has played a significant role in how that data is obtained by creating a software that allows companies to disclose salary information in a way that encrypts and randomizes every piece of data. The program allows the Women’s Workforce Council to create an aggregate picture of total salaries from various position levels and parameters. The software encrypts the information so that the Council will not know the salaries of any one company or individual, providing a powerful anonymity that does not risk the value of the data. The power of such a tool comes from the incentive it offers to every company to actually look into their gender pay gaps and fix them.

“The solution devised by the Hariri Institute was never used before; [Boston’s Pay Equity Project] shows how to use such [CS algorithms] for public good.” – Evelyn Murphy, BWWC Co-Chair, NPR OnPoint

Murphy also spoke about a compact signed by Mayor Walsh on March 28, 2016. This compact, recognized by 108 employers, was a first-in-the-nation pledge to close the gender gap in the workplace.

[Listen to the full segment]