You put in the hours, you get great results, your boss and co-workers alike love you.
But these factors in themselves aren’t necessarily enough to get you that raise you know you deserve.
You have to ask for it.
However, this may be inherently easier for one gender than the other—and not for the reasons you might think.
Many people argue that women’s hesitance to ask for more money is the culprit behind the gender wage gap—if women asked for raises like men do, the gap would evaporate. But it may not be that simple.
The Compensation Conundrum
Research from Harvard and Carnegie Mellon indicates that asking for more money can actually hurt women in the workforce. When women ask for higher salaries, they’re more likely to be viewed as greedy, demanding or “not nice” than men in the same position … all characteristics that tend to be frowned upon in a female employee.
This creates a double-edged sword for women in the workforce: Their careers may be hurt if they do ask for raises—even if they get them—because they end up being less well-liked by their peers and bosses, and their careers may be hurt if they don’t ask, because their earning potential decreases.
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Laura Kray, a professor of leadership at the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, told NBC that both male and female superiors may respond negatively to women who ask for higher salaries. Margaret Neale, a management professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and a negotiation expert, added that among bosses who judge women more harshly, it may be largely subconscious, making it even more difficult for women to combat.
What’s an ambitious woman to do? Despite the warring research, it boils down to the fact that you’ll never get what you don’t ask for—and not asking could be a million-dollar mistake.
Have you successfully negotiated a higher salary without negatively impacting your work image? Let us know how you did it in the comments.