Study Finds Women Ask for Raises and Promotions At Similar or Higher Rates Than Men

A new study by women scholars at the University of California, Berkeley and Vanderbilt University in Nashville debunks the gender pay gap myth that “women don’t ask for raises.” The study found that women attempt salary negotiations as much or more than men do, but are more likely to be rejected.

Working men make more than working women at every wage level. At higher income levels, the gender pay gap is wider. For example, After completing an MBA degree, women typically make 88 percent of what men earn. But 10 years after earning an MBA, the gap widens to 63 percent.

The authors first established that people believe men negotiate their salaries more often than women do. Participants in the study estimated that 64 percent of men and 47 percent of women negotiated job offers. In one survey, 990 participants who graduated from business school between 2015 and 2019 were asked a series of questions about their job search, the essential one being, “Did you negotiate your job offer?” Fifty-four percent of women reported negotiating offers compared to 44 percent of men. In a second survey of nearly 2,000 business school alumni, 64 percent of women and 59 percent of men reported trying to negotiate for promotions or better compensation.

“Sometimes I have concerns that comparing men and women fuels an unproductive gender war instead of illuminating the real issue, but the point is that employers should be paying in justifiable, transparent ways with equal pay for equal responsibilities,” says Jessica A. Kennedy, an associate professor of management at Vanderbilt University and co-author of the study. “A pay gap by itself doesn’t necessarily indicate unfairness, but too often, it causes people to invent false narratives about people who command fewer resources, and that’s a real problem. We can’t deal with a problem we don’t see accurately.”

Dr. Kennedy added that “it’s time for employers to take a clear look at how they pay people. Let’s be sure we fix the system and get over the idea of fixing the women. The women don’t need fixing.”

Dr. Kennedy is a graduate of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She earned a Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley.

The full study, “Now, Women Do Ask: A Call to Update Beliefs About the Gender Pay Gap,” was published on the website of the journal Academy of Management Discoveries. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study


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