How often do you negotiate a raise? If you’re female, the answer is quite likely to be not often, or even never. My first time came about 12 years ago. I was in my 20s and about to switch roles within a company. My co-worker told me I should shoot for a number that constituted a 25 percent raise. It seemed like a huge amount and I found it horribly awkward to discuss money — let alone think I was actually worth something. I squirmed at the thought. But during the interview, I summoned up the courage to make the ask. My supervisor acted surprised, which made me uncomfortable, but I managed to resist backing down.
He muttered that it was a very large raise and I was unlikely to receive that much. Still, he said he’d see what he could do.
I got it.
That was my first lesson in negotiating. Just ask — they can always say no. In almost every study done on negotiating, women simply don’t ask for raises as frequently as men do. It’s one of the many reasons for the gender pay gap. Of course, I know men who hate negotiating as much as I do (I never said it was fun) and women who consider it a point of pride to fight fiercely for what they’re worth. But in general, women face particular challenges when it comes to asking for what we want.
Society still views women as nice and accommodating. Asking for more money doesn’t fit that picture. So we have to be careful how we do it to avoid turning people off. But if you don’t ask, you have no idea what you could get. You could be turned down, but isn’t it better to find out by asking in the first place?
Do’s and Don’ts:
DO your research first. There’s a ton of it out there. I recommend Shenegotiates.com and the book “Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Want” by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever.
DON’T immediately back down if your boss balks at your request. This is all part of the game.
DO remain pleasant and polite throughout. Research shows women can get more from negotiating if they keep playing nice while sticking firmly to their guns.
DON’T say things like “because I deserve it.” It gets interviewers and managers all hot under the collar because it goes against gender norms for women.
Ashley Milne-Tyte is a radio producer and reporter based in New York City. She hosts a bi-monthly podcast called “The Broad Experience” about women in the workplace.