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Raising the Bar: Why Women Don’t Get Raises As Often As Men Do


I really dislike asking for a raise. I get nervous, my stomach hurts, I feel dizzy. The more I talked with my friends about our experiences asking for money at work, the more I realized that, in general, it’s a different experience for women than it is for men.

“It’s very hard for me to ask for money for myself,” says KIRO Radio anchorwoman Val Stouffer. “I think part of it is sort of the culture that I was brought up in of nice girls don’t talk about money, religion or politics. Definitely, going forward with your life, it really affects how you see yourself and how you interact with people.”

It seems like women don’t ask for raises as often as men do, and we’re much quicker to back down and accept a less than stellar offer compared to our male coworkers. To get a little more concrete evidence, I talked to Cindi Bright, a career counselor at Career Horizons in Bellevue.

“I would describe us women as less likely to ask for what we want. When offers are made to us, it’s easier for a woman to just accept what is being offered to her. Men don’t hold back. They carry a lot of self confidence and come in and ask for what they want to have.”

Personally, I can have a hard time selling my good points during a negotiation because it feels like bragging.

“I’ve heard that a lot. That women feel like if they advocate, and I’ll use the word advocate, for themselves then its considered bragging and it’s not. This may be a controversial statement but men do it all the time, right? So, women going in and being able to talk about what they do and how well they’ve done it is simply advocating for themselves. Get over it and start doing it because that’s how you start to gain the traction and get people to pay attention to you.”

She says the first negotiation you do at a company is the most important.

“It’s hard when you come in and you accept less because once you’re in, to be able to get yourself up to par, it’s a marathon, right?”

So what do we do? How do we get what we want?

“It’s having your facts together and it’s knowing how to market yourself and how to be be able to demonstrate why you feel you deserve that raise. To understand what you’re asking for and kind of know the landscape of what you’re trying to get yourself to.”

So why do women, strong, independent, vocal women often cower in the boss’ office?

Val thinks it’s a lack of self esteem, that permeates many areas of our lives, from body image to how we interact with people at work. Similarly, Cindi says it’s a lack of self confidence. The women who aren’t having a hard time advocating for themselves? Generation Y. Cindi says these young ladies have no problem asking for what they want, which often means a raise after just three months on the job.

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