Facebook and Microsoft both said they pay men and women the same in announcements made on the eve of Equal Pay Day, which marks how long into the new year women have to keep working to catch up to what men were paid last year.
As is common, the companies are comparing men and women who do the same work.
"Today, for every $1 earned by men, our female employees in the U.S. earn 99.8 cents at the same job title and level," Microsoft head of human resources Kathleen Hogan wrote in a blog post. Facebook's head of people Lori Matloff Goler made a similar announcement in a post on the social-media network, writing that the company does a "thorough statistical analyses to compare the compensation of men and women performing similar work" and they "earn the same."
The approach is pretty standard. And it's not particularly surprising that they say there isn't much of a problem: Past research, including one 2014 analysis by Harvard University labor economic Claudia Goldin, has found that the gender-wage gap in many tech jobs is less severe than other occupations.
Unfortunately, comparing people doing the same work doesn't tell the full story of how women struggle to get ahead in tech. It ignores an even more pernicious problem: The industry's position gap.
"It's accurate for what it claims to be -- a lack of a pay gap when looking at the same jobs -- but it doesn't get at the broader issue of women being underrepresented in these fields and leadership positions that are so crucial for setting the tone for the whole company," explained Lisa Maatz, vice president of government relations at the American Association of University Women.
While men and women may end up earning roughly the same amount in the same jobs, men are more likely to end up in higher-paying roles in the tech industry.
Last year, long-running tech career site Dice reported that that men were much more likely to hold better paying tech job titles than women. While average salaries for the top 10 tech positions held by men in 2014 ranged from $92,245 to $127,750, the top ten roles held by women had average pay between $43,068 and $98,328.
Both Facebook and Microsoft have far fewer women in leadership roles than men. Women make up 23 percent of Facebook's senior leadership, according to its latest diversity report. Microsoft's diversity report shows an even larger gap, with women holding just 17.3 percent of leadership roles.
Microsoft and Facebook are just the latest in a string of companies to talk more about gender pay equity after facing pressure from activist shareholders. Boutique investment firm Arjuna Capital has filed proposals with nine tech giants this shareholder season -- asking them to commit to fighting gender-pay gaps and disclose salary information. Several other targets of the campaign including, Apple and Amazon, addressed the issue earlier this year.
It's a good thing that companies are examining pay equity, according to Maatz. "One of our concerns for a long time was that companies just weren't paying attention," she said. But, Maatz added, there's room for even more transparency. "I'd love to see the studies be released, not only so they can back everything up, but also so they can be a model for other companies that want to do this kind of analysis," she said.