Feature

Work: Why women don’t ask for raises

Turns out the old adage is true: If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Turns out the old adage is true: If you don’t ask, you don’t get, said Jennifer Ludden in NPR.org. New research by economists at Carnegie Mellon University found that “in the face of a persistent gender pay gap,” one reason men still outearn women is because “women simply don’t ask for more money.” According to economics professor Linda Babcock, men are four times more likely than women to ask for a raise. That “failure to negotiate higher pay is crucial,” says Babcock, because it can have a “snowball effect” resulting in smaller raises and bonuses over the course of a woman’s career. And that doesn’t even account for “company retirement contributions, which are also based on a share of salary.” The problem can also “carry over to a new employer, who is almost certain to ask, ‘What was your last salary?’” Part of the reason women don’t negotiate is that they “often just don’t think about asking for more pay,” and “if they do, they find the very notion of haggling intimidating.”

With good reason, said Tara Siegel Bernard in The New York Times. Experts say that when women “advocate for themselves” and “act in ways that aren’t considered sufficiently feminine,” bosses may “find it unseemly, if only on a subconscious level.” Negotiation gurus say women should “take a more calibrated approach” when asking for a raise or a new job title. And while “some women may bridle” at the notion of conforming to stereotypes, “we might as well use them to move forward.”

In that case, “consider these tactics,” said Aine Creedon in NonprofitQuarterly.org. If you’re angling for a raise, be prepared. “Females tend to not ask for raises when there isn’t a clear standard on how much to ask for,” so do your research. Recruiters can give you an idea of what you’re worth, and networking with male colleagues and other employees in your workplace or at peer organizations “can be very informative.” And “bringing up outside offers” can help make your bosses realize your value. Sadly, this tactic may still be “seen as aggressive for females” and can backfire. “Approaching the matter in a passive tone” might be more effective. In fact, “the way you choose to present yourself and the language you use can make or break your chances.” Negotiate in person, not by email, which can “come off as impersonal and cold.” It also helps to time your request to a performance review or recent accomplishment, and focus on using words like “we” and “us” that show “how this move will benefit the whole organization.”

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