Why do women get fewer raises and less compensation for the same jobs, when they’re equally skilled? Because they don’t ask for those raises, so the myth goes. Turns out that’s not the whole story, though. Women DO ask for raises as often, they just don’t get them.
And that’s still not the whole story, oh no — the whole story is even worse, and even more entrenched, than anyone suspected.
Women who initiated such conversations and changed jobs post MBA experienced slower compensation growth than the women who stayed put. For men, on the other hand, it paid off to change jobs and negotiate for higher salaries—they earned more than men who stayed did. And we saw that as both men’s and women’s careers progress, the gender gap in level and pay gets even wider.
Our findings run counter to media coverage of the so-called phenomenon that “women don’t ask.” Instead the problem may be, as some other research has shown, that people routinely take a tougher stance against women in negotiations than they take against men—for example quoting higher starting prices when trying to sell women cars or making less generous offers when dividing a sum of money. Catalyst research has shown a number of ways that talent-management systems can also be vulnerable to unintentional gender biases and stereotypes.
So there you have it. Definitive proof that “women don’t ask as often” is a myth, and that the gender gap does really exist despite equal ambition. Now can we kindly stop blaming the victims of this gender gap, and get on with fixing the imbalances inherent in the system?