Workplace Discrimination: Women do ask for pay rises but STILL don’t get them

10 November 2016 -


A new study highlights the discrimination that is causing the gender pay gap

Jermaine Haughton

“Too passive”, “not demanding enough,” – these are commonly used phrases often used to explain why female employees do not receive salary increases comparable to their male colleagues.

A new workplace study, however, reveals this theory is backed by no statistical evidence, and suggests the equality pay gap is explained by discrimination.

Titled Do Women Ask?, researchers from Cass Business School, the University of Warwick and the University of Wisconsin found no support for the theory that women get paid less because they are not as pushy as men.  

In the first statistical test of the issue, it was found that “once we control for hours of work -- something that was not possible for previous researchers - so that the comparison being made is between full-time males and full-time females, and between part-time males and part-time females, the regression equations for the likelihood of ‘asking’ find there is no difference between men and women.”

Furthermore, when like-for-like men and women were compared, the men were a quarter more likely to be successful when asking for a raise, obtaining a pay increase 20% of the time.

Only 16% of females were successful when they asked.  

The data used for the study was gathered in the Australian Workplace Relations Survey (AWRS) which covers the period 2013-14 and is a representative sample of Australian employees and workplaces. Researchers assessed a randomly chosen sample of 4,600 workers across more than 800 employers.

Previous studies in recent years have commonly suggested a lack of “pushiness” in asking for pay rises was holding women back in the workplace.

Last year, research from recruiter found that UK-based female applicants state their ‘anticipated salary’ as £19,900, on average, while men asked for £23,800.

Expected salaries varied by industry, with women asking for 29% less than men in accountancy, 22% less in banking, 21% less in the energy sector and 18% lower in education.

A qualified male accountant, for example, expected to earn £47,000 in their next role compared to just £36,400 for women with the same experience. The report showed that only in the IT and security industry, did women actually ask for higher pay, albeit just 2% more.

Similarly, rival recruiter Ranstad’s Women in Work report revealed only a fifth of women have asked their boss to up their salaries in the past three years, compared to over a third of men.

Meanwhile, nearly half (47%) of women said they wouldn’t even consider asking for a pay rise because they fear it might jeopardise their current position.

Some experts have also been vocal on the issue. Melbourne University management professor Mara Olekalns has said women are discouraged from negotiating because of gender stereotypes, which make them seem “pushy” in negotiations.

“All of the kinds of behaviours that are typically associated with being an effective negotiator are male stereotyped behaviours,” Dr Olekalns said. “Just by virtue of initiating a negotiation, women are perceived as being really pushy and really aggressive and someone other people don’t want to work with.

“They’ve gone from being nice and likeable to tough and assertive. When they violate that stereotype they experience backlash.”

The Do Women Ask? research concluded:“This paper documents evidence, of a direct and simple kind, that women do ask but do not get. Such a finding is potentially consistent with the existence of discrimination in the labour market.”

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