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Shedding its racy past, GoDaddy issues tech challenge

The GoDaddy banner hangs outside of the New York Stock Exchange as the website hosting service makes its initial public offering on April 1, 2015 in New York City.
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The GoDaddy banner hangs outside of the New York Stock Exchange as the website hosting service makes its initial public offering on April 1, 2015 in New York City.

It wasn't too long ago that GoDaddy was known just as much for its sexy ads as its web hosting services, and chief executive Blake Irving is quick to acknowledge this.

"Aren't you the company that objectified women in advertising for years? Yes, that was GoDaddy," he told a packed audience of mostly women at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Houston on Wednesday.

Having ditching the racy ads after Irving took the helm, the company has sought to turn around both its external image while also promoting gender diversity internally.

On Wednesday, it released its first company wide salary analysis detailing the gender divide.

Women earn slightly more than men at GoDaddy overall, but 0.11 percent less than men in technical roles. In management roles, women take home 3.6 percent less than men. Importantly, the proportion of female developers also dramatically decreases as the roles get more senior.

"We're being transparent and working to make a positive difference," Irving said at the conference.

Year-on-year, the company has made some progress, with the proportion of women in management roles rising 2 percentage points to 25 percent this year. Women now made up 39 percent of new graduates and interns at the company, up 25 percentage points.

Read MoreGoDaddy CEO: We want to represent women proudly

More broadly, women are still vastly underrepresented in the tech industry. They made up just 19.8 percent of the total U.S. pool of software developers last year, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

At the conference, Irving urged his peers to join him in releasing salary information and diversity statistics.

"If a company with reputation like GoDaddy can make real progress, however slight," then the rest of Silicon Valley can as well, he added.