The costs of asking for a higher salary

Women who haggle for better pay often are seen as "less nice," so many don't, researchers say.

Topics: Broadsheet, Love and Sex,

The same explanation for the gender pay gap has been put on exhibit, again and again: Women aren’t as aggressive as men are about asking for raises. But, according to a new study, the reason may not be so much that women don’t know how to haggle as it is that they perceive consequences to being seen as the not-so-nice girl.

In a series of studies, Linda C. Babcock, a professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University, and Hannah Riley Bowles, a public policy professor at Harvard University, found that it isn’t just gender that dictates whether the job applicant negotiates. Researchers had 367 volunteers role-play a closing job interview; they were given the choice of whether or not to ask for more than they were offered. They found that women are less likely than men to negotiate their salary when the decider is a man, but that gender gap falls away when the applicants are dealing with a woman.

Why might this be? Well, in a related study, the researchers asked 285 volunteers to evaluate videos of job applicants either asking for higher pay or agreeing to the offered salary. “Men tended to rule against women who negotiated but were less likely to penalize men; women tended to penalize both men and women who negotiated, and preferred applicants who did not ask for more,” reports the Washington Post. (It’s interesting that in that related study female applicants didn’t perceive — or at least weren’t dissuaded by — the inclination among women to penalize both men and women for pay haggling.)

You Might Also Like

In another study, 119 volunteers evaluated descriptions of male and female job applicants, all of whom were described as good candidates. Included in each candidate profile was a blurb about whether he or she accepted the offered salary. The volunteers were asked whether they would hire a given candidate; researchers found that both male and female candidates were viewed negatively for negotiating, but the effect was twofold for women. And — prepare to be unsurprised — women were seen as “less nice” for negotiating.

Bowles sums up the findings: “What we found across all the studies is men were always less willing to work with a woman who had attempted to negotiate than with a woman who did not. They always preferred to work with a woman who stayed mum. But it made no difference to the men whether a guy had chosen to negotiate or not.”

This alone doesn’t explain the pay gap, of course. But, it’s a reminder that closing at least the pay negotiation gap will be trickier than teaching women to be more aggressive. “This isn’t about fixing the women,” said Bowles. “It isn’t about telling women, ‘You need self-confidence or training.’ They are responding to incentives within the social environment … The point of this paper is: Yes, there is an economic rationale to negotiate, but you have to weigh that against social risks of negotiating. What we show is those risks are higher for women than for men.”

Tracy Clark-Flory

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>