Looking for a Raise? The Cards May Be Fixed Against Women

A study shows women don't negotiate as much as men do when it comes to their salary.

| August 15th, 2012

People often say one of the reasons for the gender wage gap is that women don’t negotiate.

Well, a new study shows that negotiating may actually be the problem.

The study of 184 managers, published in the journal Organization Science, showed that when the participants faced a scenario in which they would have to explain raises they were awarding–in other words, prepare to negotiate–they were likely to give men raises two-and-a-half times as large as the raises for female workers of equal skills and experience. This was even before any negotiations would have occurred.

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However, when the managers faced a scenario in which they would award the raises without explanation, they gave equal raises to the men and the women.

Really?! While some studies indicate that women don’t negotiate as often as men do (especially early in their careers), this experiment suggests that the cards are stacked against them before they even begin a negotiation.

In every profession (except for shoe-shining and some other personal care jobs, oddly enough), women earn less compared to their male counterparts. On average, women make about 70 cents for every dollar a man makes in a similar position.

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“Whenever research reveals disparities between men’s and women’s pay, there is a common retort: The gap ‘must’ be due to unobserved differences in men’s and women’s willingness or skill in negotiating for pay,” Maura Belliveau, who conducted the research at Emory University and is now an associate professor of management at Long Island University in New York, told The Globe and Mail. “Although some gender differences in negotiation exist, this study reveals women incur a major disadvantage that precedes any negotiation.”

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