Harvard’s Hannah Riley Bowles and Carnegie Mellon’s Linda Babcock have been studying this subject for the past five years. In their most recent study, published last August in Psychology of Women Quarterly, they got hundreds of people to watch videos of women and men following different negotiation “scripts,” and then had them judge whether they would give the negotiator the raise, and if they would want to work with that person.
Bowles and Babcock found that certain tactics help women get the money, others make them more likable, and a few actually do both. Here are strategies they’ve found most successful when women ask for a raise:
Mention how weird you feel about asking for a raise. When women used phrases like “I hope it’s OK to ask you about this,” “I’d feel terrible if I offended you in doing this,” and “My relationships with people here are very important to me,” the researchers found that they were able to defuse the social repercussions. But it didn’t actually help them get a raise.
Say negotiating is good for the organization. To both be likable and get the raise, the researchers found this line particularly successful: “I don’t know how typical it is for people at my level to negotiate, but I’m hopeful you’ll see my skill at negotiating as something important that I bring to the job.” In that one snazzy sentence, you’ve managed to recast your “selfish” desire for more money as a wonderful trait you want to give to your employer. How thoughtful! How feminine!
Ask your boss what he or she thinks. Simply asking “What do you think?” or “I’d love to get your advice on this” was a good trick to seem less aggressive-confrontational-manly.
Blame it on someone else. The researchers discovered that when women said another person at the company, like a supervisor, had told them to ask for a raise, they were more likely to get it, without losing popularity points.
This is why I say “organize.”
Because are you KIDDING ME WITH THIS SHIT?
These “scientists” studied the behavior of women in the workplace and what helped them “get ahead” and this is what they found and their solution is to give advice in how to work within that system?
Ugh. I’m sticking with the union. (Actually, I’m sticking with being freelance, but that’s another story, one that includes many, many negotiations over pay.)
This sort of individual negotiating strategy stuff puts all the burden on the individual worker for her lousy pay and conditions, which is always bullshit and is especially so with still-high unemployment. It’s a buyer’s market out there, which means that people who might’ve been inclined to push for a raise are going to be less likely to because they know there are twenty people angling for their job if they get fired.
But these articles are much more common; the conservative argument for the wage gap is bolstered by this kind of thinking, which says that women don’t want, need, or ask for higher pay and that’s why they make less.
Instead of seeing this research for what it is, proof that gender roles still rule the workplace, this is going to be passed around as Cosmo-style “tips” for getting ahead.