Research Says: Negotiation Is Key to Equal Pay Gap  Photo Credit: Bill Liao

Study: Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide (Linda Babcock, Carnegie Mellon 2011)

Finding: The wage gap affects more than high-level executives. Women need to negotiate for what they’re worth straight out of college as well as when they’re moving up the corporate ladder.

Note about The Woman Effect Research Index: This study was performed by researchers not affiliated with InPower Women. Our Research Index includes all relevant research to the subject of women, business and power. We do not influence how the research was conducted or reported by the researchers. In our abstracts, we focus on pulling out the most actionable advice for individual women. To suggest additional research we should index, or discuss our choice of abstract focus, please contact us

InPower Insight: Speak up and negotiate for what you’re worth – every time, all the time – and tackle the wage gap on a person-by-person basis. It starts with you.


Good news! There’s useful news-of-note regarding the gender pay gap coming out of recent studies into why the wage gap persists, and how to properly go about correcting it.

In this study by Carnegie Mellon, MBA students who graduated between 2002-2003 were surveyed on negotiating salaries. It was found that on average, when these MBA students negotiated their salaries, they could increase their initial offer by up to 8%. However, the raise didn’t come when the students chose not to negotiate, and while 52% of men negotiated their salaries, only 12% of women were likely to do the same. Further complicating matters, those women who did take the initiative to ask and negotiate were seen in a negative light and labeled as “too pushy.”

Women already make 70-75 cents for every dollar of their male counterparts. In several states, this number is increasingly lower: Utah, 68 cents, Louisiana 66 cents. Studies found that one year after women exit college and begin working full time, they earn 80% of what males earn. Ten years after graduation, they make only 69%. Professionals who recognize the pay gap problem have started programs like $tart $mart to help women realize their value and arm them with negotiation skills and confidence.

The pay gap is “problematic on a social level, but the issue has to be addressed on a personal basis,” according to GetRaised founder Matt Walleart, who believes that instead of focusing on the wage gap itself, we need to be focusing on “why individual women are being paid less than they should be.”

Career Coaching Tip: Always negotiate your worth. It’s less about how high you can get and more about consistently practicing the act of standing up for your value. The research says that over time, those 8% increases will add up for you and help you personally while closing the wage gap in your small part of the world. Be aware of the “pushy” perception that some women fall prey to, but don’t let that stop you. Be conscious of your effort to represent your value and put aside thoughts of “pushyness”. Just be yourself and be aware of your value. And then ask. Be quiet and listen to the response. Regardless of what comes back, restate your belief in your value. Practice this each time you can and your pay will go up, along with your self-esteem.

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