Salary and gender go hand-in-hand. We all have heard of the statistics that women get paid less than men for the same job. An infographic from whitehouse.gov shows even more recent data. That needs to change.
But to figure out where we are, we have to keep up on the research. There is a recent article in the Washington Post called “Salary, Gender, and the Social Cost of Haggling“. The point of the article is to enumerate how social dynamics dictate whether men and women should negotiate for raises and higher pay. So who’s better, men or women?
The answer is both. The goal in salary negotiation is often to maximize your compensation given your circumstances.
What the academic researchers in the article suggest is that men often feel more comfortable asking for more money because they correctly believe that they won’t be penalized for doing so. That’s a cultural norm that leads to discrimination in overall compensation. Breaking that won’t be easy for any manager. Awareness is the key.
Women, conversely, have the social recognition that their penalty for asking for more money is much higher than that of men. Therefore, they are maximizing their salaries often by NOT asking for more money. It’s this cultural norm that’s so troublesome. How can we both encourage women to negotiate while not penalizing them from the other side of the table? This double-edge leads to depressed salaries for women.
So what does all this mean to salary negotiation? I believe it indicates that when you can justify a higher starting salary or better raise, then you MUST try. On average, you will get more money (7.4% more according to the article). If you perform up to the value, then no one will think twice about paying your price. Asking for higher compensation without compelling justification can result in greater penalty because the perception of the hiring agent could be that you are driven first by greed rather than the goals of the company. Often companies see that as a red flag, man or woman. Prepare, prepare, prepare.