Monday, July 30, 2007

Please Sir, Can I have Some More?

According to the Washington Post, women ask for more money or wage increases less frequently than men do. We hear this a lot as though it were the conclusion of the debate on women's wages. Clearly there are a number of other issues going on:

1) Women are taught from an early age that it's rude to ask for more. When I think about the issues - I know personally my gut reaction is to feel I should be grateful for what I'm offered, but then I remember having that drummed into me as a kid.

2) I've never asked for a raise without first testing the waters - dropping a few hints to see if it's worth asking. Lots of women are undoubtedly being discouraged from asking, being "let know" not to bother. I know I've transferred departments before and on joining the new team been told "You're doing very well for yourself for a young girl like you...". Didn't take me long to figure out it wasn't worth asking for more.*

3) When I have asked for a raise and been refused, to save face my employers and I have generally "re-framed" the conversation. "I'm glad you're interested in joining the new project, I'm just sorry we don't have quite the right spot for you"... So maybe refused wage rise applications don't get counted as applications for wage increase but as other types of meeting.

4) Applications for wage increases do not help companies so women should be congratulated for using up less management time and demanding less money. To ensure they do not fall behind on wages we should immediately introduce compulsory annual wage reviews which address at the gender pay gap specifically. We also need to make it compulsory for companies to offer transparency on wages - so women can see if they are falling behind.

And then if you read to the end of the report we discover the horrible truth - in the study, men were less prepared to hire and work with women who negotiated for more money. But indifferent about whether the guys they worked with negotiated or not. So we discover that women who seem the negotiating type never get hired in the first place. No wonder we have all learnt not to stick our necks out!

*Although I did ask not to be referred to as a "young girl" when I was nearly 30 and doing all the actual complicated work on the team. Filling a "Hermione Grainger" role...

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