Tactics That Will Help You Get A Raise (If You're Female)

Woman asking for a raise

Women still earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, and are paid less even in the same job, working the same hours. Partly, this is because women are less inclined to ask for a raise -- and for good reason. Research shows that women who ask for raises are seen as aggressive and unfeminine, and that backlash might hurt their future prospects in the job.

But a new study identifies a possible solution: Devise clever ways for women to ask for a raise that makes them appear non-aggressive and feminine.

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Harvard's Hannah Riley Bowles and Carnegie Mellon's Linda Babock 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.

Definitely, definitely ask. Even though asking for a raise might be a more traitorous terrain for women, they should still definitely, absolutely ask, according to the researchers. Women, more than men, they found, seem to believe that if they sit quietly and work really hard, somebody will shower them with praises and wads of cash. This is rarely the case.

All the normal stuff too. And like men, when women want a raise they should (a) time it for when they've just done something awesome (b) research how much they should be paid, from friends (not just female friends, who are probably paid less than their male equivalents) or websites like Payscale.com, Salary.com, and Glassdoor.com and (c) ask what they can do to get that raise or promotion, if the boss is hesitant at first.

But wait: isn't conforming to feminine stereotypes counterproductive?
Bowles says no. "To make change you need idealists and pragmatists," Bowles says in response to this critique. And she's offering up the pragmatic approach.

"I do genuinely believe that the stereotypes ultimately stem from the fact that we expect women to be paid less, because women are typically paid less. and we expect men to be in leadership positions, because they are mostly in leadership roles," she explained. "And part of the process has to be getting more women up there."



How to Ask for a Raise





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Claire Gordon

Staff Writer

Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.

Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at claire.gordon@teamaol.com. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.

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11 Comments

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mae

Gross. Let me know when someone writes a story aimed at helping bosses learn how to not be sexist ******** and to treat all their employees equally.

February 01 2013 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mygreendoor

Thank you Claire Gordon, for knocking us women backward a good 60 years. This article was such a pleasant trip back to 1953. Let me know when you've rejoined us here in 2013.

February 01 2013 at 10:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Buzzy2247

How about lets focus on the job and the work outlined for them instead of a new tatic to ask for a raise...

January 29 2013 at 5:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SurvivorJ

Nuts, sounds like this person worked for one of the companies I did...didn't matter how hard you worked or if you gave up your lunch and breaks to get the job done all that mattered was the flirting, eye batting and kissing up and you could even take an extended 10 minute break and turn it into a on the clock 20 - 30 minute break while the underling worked their butts off.... Welcome to the real world ..Oh yeah!! don't forget the nepitism....

January 28 2013 at 4:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fox12ga

Best way is yell descrimination like the blacks do

January 28 2013 at 4:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jteasdale

This is ridiculous. How about asking for a raise based on your work performance and be prepared to back up your opinion about that work.

January 28 2013 at 3:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
womenfirst

With friends like these . . . .

January 28 2013 at 3:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
howie

The old gender pay gap myth revisited.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christina-hoff-sommers/wage-gap_b_2073804.html

January 28 2013 at 2:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
scott

i beleive a big cameltoe and nice chesticals and a great smile will get youi far

January 28 2013 at 2:33 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
criticalf

This was a joke right? Probably some article rehashed from the 50s perhaps? The whole premise of catering to "pragmatism" only negatively reinforces the weaker sex stereotype. If a woman behaves this incompetently, insecurely and codependently in order to obtain a raise, then there's no question left as to why she won't receive it. Who wants to elevate a wimpy chick to a prestigious place either financially or authoritatively? Hence, the retention of women as the weaker sex remains and women will continue to be paid less than their male counterparts. File this article, the writer who thought it was credible enough to publish it and the "authorities" who researched it under trash!

January 28 2013 at 1:21 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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