Australian women working full time continue to be paid less than their male counterparts, with the pay gap currently sitting at 13.8%.
Two of the reasons for the gender pay gap are that women generally work in industries that have traditionally lower rates of pay and because women hold fewer senior positions within those industries.
Even after seniority and industry is factored in, researchers continually find that women are paid less than men due to discrimination and unconscious bias.
Research from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency has published a research paper that states that women ask for pay increases just as often as men but that they are less likely to get them because of gender bias and in some cases, they may actually be penalised.
Studies have also shown that assertive or confident women are frequently judged as less likeable than women who conform to a more traditional stereotype.
Harvard University researchers discovered that women were considered to be less likeable if they attempted to negotiate higher pay whereas men were not penalised. The same researchers also found that women were less likely than men to ask a male manager for a better salary package because of the social risks associated with doing so.
In research where 4,600 Australian employees were surveyed, 48% thought that salary was negotiable whereas only 32% of women thought that they could negotiate. In other words, if you don’t believe that your salary is negotiable then you are less likely to negotiate and therefore, women are less likely to ask.
Bree Forse says that although she negotiated her wage in her current position as an executive assistant at a law firm, she doesn’t normally.
“In the past it’s been because I haven’t felt comfortable or worth it.”
She says that she hasn’t asked for raises either because she hasn’t felt as if the companies would give her one.
She negotiates her wages now due to the cost of living.
“If you don’t renegotiate your wages you’re losing money everytime the cost of living goes up. I actually read somewhere that you should be asking for a 7% increase in your wages if you actually want to stay on par with the cost of living.”
She adds that you should also ask for a pay rise when your responsibilities increase because most companies won’t pay you more unless you ask.
Her sentiment is shared by Nina Clarke* who doesn’t negotiate her wages. She says that she is worried that the employer will say no or think they’re entitled. She attributes her reluctance to negotiate wages to conditioning. Women are conditioned to question their worth whereas men are not.
Attitudes amongst men are different, with those we interviewed saying that they always negotiate their wages and that they have never been turned down.
So how can you get a pay rise in 2022?
Job search website, Seek.com.au gives four tips to increase your chances.
- Highlight the positives in your role and what you’re proud of. Talk about how happy you are to be in the organisation and a project that you’re proud of.
- Talk about your achievements. Be as specific as you can in what you’ve achieved over the last 12 months. It’s in your best interests to have specific numbers, but you don’t, then talk about the tangible or intangible benefit such as improving your team’s morale.
- Get to the point. Refer back to your achievements and what comparable roles in other organisations are paying and ask for a review of your salary.
- After the meeting send an email to your manager thanking them for their time. If you need to arrange another discussion to sort out the final details. If your pay rise is approved ensure you get the details in writing, such as the amount and when it will take effect. If the answer is no, consider asking for bonuses, additional time off in lieu or extra paid leave. If there’s no room for movement ask for another discussion in three to six months time.