They find they pay a price for getting what they want
Women don’t get raises, the conventional wisdom goes, because they simply don’t ask.
A new study conducted by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. casts doubt on that assumption. Women are in fact negotiating for raises and promotions just as much as their male counterparts and, at the senior levels, at even higher rates, according to survey results from 70,000 men and women.
That isn’t the end of the story, though. The data also shows that negotiation carries a special risk for women. Women who do seek a raise or promotion are more likely to receive feedback that they are “bossy,” “intimidating” or “aggressive,” compared with women who don’t negotiate and men who do. (Male employees are also more likely than women to report that they got a raise without asking, or didn’t ask for one because they were already being well compensated.)
As part of that, the experts say, women must back up their requests with research into pay standards and other information.
“If you come [into a negotiation] with a figure, don’t just say, ‘I want more,’ ” says Ariane Hegewisch, program director for employment and earnings at the nonprofit research organization Institute for Women’s Policy Research. ”Think through good reasons why they should pay you more in terms of what you’ve achieved.”
Negotiating is as critical for women as it is for men. Both women and men in the survey who didn’t ask for a specific amount in a salary negotiation received 32% less on average than the ones who did.
Though women are advocating for themselves much more, asking carries risks. In 2003, Linda Babcock co-wrote the book “Women Don’t Ask,” exploring the gender divide in workplace negotiations. More than a decade later, she says she has observed awareness around the issue shift dramatically.
“I think the remaining challenge we have is how people respond to women when we do negotiate,” says Ms. Babcock, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz School of Public Policy and Management.