Study: Women Do Ask For Raises. They Just Don’t Get Them.
Equal pay has been been making the news more and more recently, which means it’s a good time to look at the factors that contribute to it. Around the world, a commonly believed reason for the gender pay gap is that women do not negotiate their compensation or ask for raises often as men. Research, however, suggests otherwise: While women do talk salary as much as men, they receive a raise only 15% of the time, whereas men receive a raise 20% of the time.
They also addressed and debunked the common explanation for this: that women are supposedly not as assertive in discussing compensation out of concern it will jeopardize workplace relationships. Instead, they found an equal proportion — 14% — of men and women have refrained from asking for a raise for this reason.
The study, which was circulated in the press two years ago, was criticized widely for not undergoing peer review. It now has, and the findings, say authors Benjamin Artz, Amanda H. Goodall, and Andrew J. Oswald, hold. In an article for Harvard Business Review, the trio describe its analysis of 4,600 randomly selected employees across 800 workplaces in Australia (the only country with detailed data on patterns of “asking” for compensation) surveyed in 2014.
The survey, which questioned both employers and employees, allowing the researchers to better control for variability across workplace environments, included questions such as: “Have you attempted to attain a better wage/salary for yourself since you commenced employment with this employer?” “Were you successful?” “Why have you not attempted to attain a better wage/promotion for yourself since you commenced your employment?… Were you concerned about negative effects on your relationship with your manager/employer?”
Artiz, Goodall, and Oswald found older workers ask for raises more often than younger ones. Longer-tenured employees were more likely to ask for a raise, and also more likely to get it, than part-time or newer employees.
Significantly, they found that younger women seemed statistically at par with their male counterparts when it came to asking for and getting increased compensation. The researchers attribute this to a possible change in negotiation behavior and attitudes over the years.
But they also suggest earlier research on this topic was simply not the most reflective of ‘real life.’ They cite two earlier studies that found little to no significant evidence that women ask for raises less than men.
Perhaps then, what this research really shows is that more attention on the issue of pay disparity might force us to recognize just how skewed remuneration has always been — and focus on how to fix it.