A Toolkit for Women Seeking a Raise

A Toolkit for Women Seeking a Raise

A recent study by Harvard professor Hannah Riley Bowles, suggests that part of the unexplained earning gap between men and women may be tied, at least in part, to the pay negotiating process. It may be that some women have lower pay expectations. Men, on the other hand, have been found to be more likely to negotiate higher starting salaries. The work by Ms. Riley Bowles and her peers suggests that women in the work force can use specific advice. Here are some of their suggestions:


• If you believe you deserve a raise, don’t sit around and wait for someone to notice. “A lot of women, and this is quite commonly found, think, ‘As long as I work really, really hard, someone will notice and they will pay me more,’ ” said Karen J. Pine, a psychology professor at the University of Hertfordshire in Britain and co-author of “Sheconomics” (Headline Publishing Group, 2009). But “people don’t come and notice.”


• Doing your research pays, literally. A study found that men and women who recently earned a master’s degree in business negotiated similar salaries when they had clear information about how much to ask for. But in industries where salary standards were ambiguous, women accepted pay that was 10 percent lower, on average, than men. “In our experiments, we found that with ambiguous information, women set less ambitious goals,” said Ms. Riley Bowles, who ran the study. “They asked for less in a competitive negotiation and got less.”

• Part of your preparation may also include talking to peers. But remember that women tend to be less connected to male networks in the workplace and are more likely to compare themselves to people they think are similar, Ms. Riley Bowles said. That means they may be comparing their salaries with other women. “If a woman asks her girlfriends how much they are paid and a guy asks his guy friends, Jane and Jim will come up with different numbers,” Ms. Riley Bowles added.

• Instead of explaining why you deserve a raise directly, for instance, frame it in terms of why it makes sense for the organization or the person you’re trying to persuade. “Make the company the focus,” she said.


• Try to envision what kinds of objections your boss may have and think about what your response might be. There is no single way through this. It’s largely reactive once you start the process.

• If you’re unsuccessful, ask your boss for recommendations on what you could do to move to the next level in your job. That way, you are still in control and are still being constructive. If you trust your own language and your own ability to perceive these potential roadblocks or damaging outcomes, then you will find your way through them.

Source: The New York Times


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