Women and the “ambition gap”
20 February 2013
A few semesters ago a student earnestly assured me that women earn less in today’s America (famously, about $.76 to every man’s $1) because they have less ambition. As exasperating as such claims are, I had no comeback — until now.
An article in the Atlantic offers a range of studies debunking the notion that women are shrinking violets in their jobs. They ask for raises at roughly the same rates as men; they negotiate at roughly the same rates; they ask for promotions. Moreover, “among MBA grads on a traditional career track, women are even more likely than men to seek out skill-building experiences and training opportunities and to make their achievements visible by asking for feedback and promotions.”
Women ask; they negotiate; they display ambition. They just don’t receive those raises and promotions.
Who to blame?
Maybe, the managers. One study told 184 managers that they would have a limited pot of money to hand out in raises to employees with identical skills and responsibilities. The managers that were told they’d have to negotiate gave men two-and-a-half times the amount in raises that they gave to women before anyone sat down. This meant that the men didn’t even need to negotiate for higher pay, while women were already at a disadvantage when they tried to bargain up, because the rest of the money was assigned to their male peers.
Honestly — it makes me want to negotiate my salary right now. And then get myself in a position to correct these inequities.