Personal Finance

Suggestions For Women Seeking a Raise

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Last updated on July 23, 2019 Comments: 8

The New York Times is running a feature designed to help women negotiate for and receive a raise from their employer. Even in today’s progressive society in the workplace, women earn less than men for the same job, even after controlling for factors like time away from the workforce for childcare.

According to the article, women take a different approach to negotiation than men. There is a double standard in perception; men who negotiate for higher pay are seen as as strong or attractive while women in the same situation are seen as unattractive.

The division where I work is more matriarchal than most: most of the managers, directors, and vice presidents are women; I work with almost all women; and the men who I do work with seem less ambitious than the women. This seems to be an interesting role reversal, and I don’t see this in other divisions within my company. I am not privy to salary information, however.

Here are some of the better suggestions from the article.

The article suggests women be proactive and ask for a raise at opportune moments rather than wait for a boss to notice accomplishments. In my experiences, bosses may notice accomplishments, but if I don’t mention compensation, the topic would never come up.

In addition to speaking out, be prepared. In my company, every pay grade and every job function have base salary and full compensation market reference ranges. The low number of the range is supposedly the median salary (or full compensation amount) for the lowest-earning quartile while the high number is the median salary (or full compensation amount) for the highest-earning quartile. Your range pertains to people performing the same job in the same location across the industry. It’s unclear, however, exactly how the survey of compensation is conducted.

Beyond the company-provided data, it’s better to research the market with sites like PayScale and Glassdoor. While the information is likely not very accurate, and even with reaching thousands of people across the country there might not be a large enough sample, you might be able to determine if you are significantly under-compensated.

Know your audience when you negotiate. “Women are more likely to be successful if they explain why their request is appropriate, but in terms that also communicate that they care about maintaining good relationships at work,” according to the article. Consider the other person’s point of view and the company’s best interest. If you mention you have another offer from outside the company, this could make your boss defensive, and this approach could backfire.

In your workplace, what are the differences in approach between men and women, and what approaches tend to be successful in negotiations?

A Toolkit For Women Seeking a Raise, Tara Siegel Bernard, New York Times, May 14, 2010

Article comments

Anonymous says:

How about a real life story that happened to me? My coworker wasn’t able to take a contract so he told the recruiter he knew someone who might be interested. I submitted my resume (via my friend) and bet him that as soon as the recruiter called me and found out I was a woman (the name on my resume could be either male or female), he would offer me about $10 less per hour. He thought that was ridiculous. Recruiter called, talked to me for a few minutes, offered me $10 less per hour. Keep in mind, at the time, I had the stronger resume with more experience. Knowing that my colleague would likely have told me what pay scale he was offered, he must be an idiot to think I would take less than that when I had the stronger background. I didn’t even bother negotiating, just said “no thanks”…

Anonymous says:

I’m obviously not Consumerism Commentary, but here’s a few links.

The most recent study I remember is this one from Catalyst:

The less academic version is here:

“Take away educational disparity and the mommy-track and, when all things are equal, female MBAs still earn less than their male counterparts”

Anonymous says:

megscole64, how about the US government census bureau? Here are the links:

Or here: The wage gap has narrowed, but it is still significant. Women earned 59% of the wages men earned in 1963; in 2008 they earned 77% of men’s wages—an improvement of about half a penny per dollar earned every year.

Anonymous says:

I’d like to see a link or proof that women actually still make less because I’m pretty sure it’s not true. If you factor in time off for children AND allow for the differences in types of jobs women are pretty much in line with what men make. It’s a hard stat to pin down though because you can’t just throw all men and women in the same comparison – it’s comparison apples to oranges. If you look at the SAME types of jobs I think there’s very little difference.

I do agree that women should be more proactive in asking for raises. I know I was no good at it at my last job.