Gender pay gap: Women less likely to get a pay rise when they ask, study

By Liz Burke

The notion women were paid less because they were less likely to ask for a raise has been debunked by a study. Photo / Getty
The notion women were paid less because they were less likely to ask for a raise has been debunked by a study. Photo / Getty

We've all heard the argument that part of the reason women are paid less than men is because they're less likely to wave the flag for their own worth and ask for a pay rise, but a new study blows that theory out of the water.

The University of London - using Australian data - has surveyed 4600 women across more than 800 employers, and reached a different conclusion.

Women do ask for salary hikes, the research suggests, they just don't get them.

The study, titled Do Women Ask?, found women asked for wage increases just as often as men, but when their male counterparts ask for more money, their requests were 25 per cent more likely to be met.

The research claims to be the first "statistical idea test of the idea that women get paid less because they are not as pushy as men", and found no support for the theory.

Co-author and Professor of Economics and Behavioural Science at the University of Warwick, Andrew Oswald, said the research should force some acceptance that "there is some element of pure discrimination against women".

Various ideas, including that women feared being less popular at work, have been offered to explain women's apparent reluctance to ask for a pay increase, but fellow co-author Dr Amanda Goodall from Cass Business School said in study's test of the "reticent-female theory", the evidence just didn't stack up.

When men and women were compared, controlling for hours worked and other variables, man were a quarter more likely to be successful, obtaining a pay increase 20 per cent of the time. Only 16 per cent of females were successful when they asked.

Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) director Libby Lyons told news.com.au that while previous studies have showed women tend to have less successful outcomes than men when it comes to pay negotiations, this new research suggested women's appetite for negotiation is no different from men's.

Lyons suggested "gender bias" was often to blame for women being routinely denied pay increases, and said employers could work to stop it.

"Gender bias often underpins promotion, performance and pay decisions, For example, a perception that men are the family breadwinner and more deserving of a pay rise can influence pay decisions," she said.

"By making criteria for pay increases and bonuses transparent, placing limits on managerial discretion and analysing pay decisions, employers can help address these inconsistencies."

Lyons said the difference between women's and men's pay negotiation outcomes had "significant implications for gender equality in the workplace", which was evidence in the lack of women in senior workplace roles and the persistent gender pay gap.

Only 27.4 per cent of key management positions are held by women, along with just 15.4 per cent of CEO positions, according to the WGEA's gender equality scorecard released last year.

The fulltime gender pay gap is 16.2 per cent.

- news.com.au

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