Ask for More

Gentlemen, I would like to ask you to leave the room for a moment. Move along, now. Yes, you too, over there in the corner, I see you!

Okay. Ladies: Do you have trouble asking for more money when you're offered wages, salaries, speakers' fees, or any other financial negotiations?

Read. This. Now.

It's a well-established fact that women are far less likely than men to negotiate for more money. Women Don't Ask was the title of an excellent book exploring the topic. Yes, that's partly because women are more likely to be socialized that we'll be punished for being aggressive in a way that men aren't. But we can still find ways to do it that are effective and natural. There are some great books on the subject. Go to your library or bookstore and find the one that works for you.

This isn't the only reason for the yawning gender wage gap. There's sexual harassment (Herman Cain!), occupational segregation, bias against mothers, and other contributors. But this one matters. Teach yourself, your friends, your daughters, your students to ask for more—every time. 

Okay, tell the men that they can come back in now.



I wonder how much evidence there is that asking works for women. We're not just socialized to believe that we'll be punished for being aggressive, we are actually punished for being aggressive.

I know about that research too. But yes, women can find effective ways to ask for more. I promise. Don't defeat yourself before you start!


It's important to make this known. And it's also important to train women to face this situation. At my university, we're doing a lot to increase the odds of promotion for women, but how do we catch them earlier enough to help them learn to negotiate better?
How to get more women professors: success on the top of the world!

I actually had a really negative experience the first time I decided to ask for more money. I was reading "Women Don't Ask" at the time, not coincidentally, and made up my mind that it was now or never. The supervisor, also a woman, essentially accused me of lying about how much I was paid at a similar position in another city and told me it was clear that the job wasn't a good fit for me (after offering me the position).

As much as I tell myself that this was her problem and not mine, it will surely impact my words/actions next time I'm in a similar situation. I know I should ask for more, but after such a negative experience (resulting in having the job offer revoked!) it will only be more difficult.

I guess the silver lining is not ending up in a company and with a supervisor who doesn't value women's contributions for what they're worth monetarily, but I'm afraid that's little consolation to someone who needs a job.

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