A study from two decades ago, featured in Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever's book "Women Don't Ask," revealed that women often accepted initial job offers without negotiating, while men were more likely to seek higher starting salaries.
This suggested that these differences in early negotiations could carry on over time and significantly contribute to the gender pay gap.
However, a new study published in the Academy of Management Discoveries highlights a surprising shift in this narrative, contradicting the common belief that women are less likely to ask for higher pay.
The research reveals that women are now more likely than men to ask for increased compensation.
Despite this women still earn less than their male counterparts, suggesting that the gender pay gap cannot be solely attributed to women's reluctance to negotiate.
The study examined survey data from 990 MBA graduates. In this sample, 54% of women reported negotiating their first job offers, compared to 44% of men.
Despite the increase in women's negotiation efforts, the perception that women are hesitant to negotiate persists, as revealed by public surveys.
"Therefore, the pay gap in this population disfavoring women cannot logically be due to women not asking," the study concluded.
What Does This Mean For the Gender Pay Gap?
This misconception poses a challenge to closing the gender pay gap as it oversimplifies the issue and places responsibility on women.
Believing that women can achieve pay equality by negotiating more frequently distracts from addressing the true underlying causes of the pay gap.
A recent analysis from the Pew Research Center revealed that women earned an average of 82% compared to what men earned in 2022. Two decades before that, this percentage sat at 80%, indicating minimal change.
In the Academy of Management Discoveries' study, the researchers advocate for a revised message to replace "Women don't ask."
They propose that a more accurate statement would be "Women are punished for asking," acknowledging the unique challenges faced by female negotiators and the need to address the biases that persist in the workplace.
Edited by Nikola Djuric