The Wednesday Weigh-In: Negotiating that pay raise edition

Feministing readers are pretty familiar with the wage gap. The short story is that women still earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, and are paid less even in the same job, working the same hours. While institutionalized sexism remains the key culprit for this travesty, it’s also true that women are both less likely to ask for and less likely to receive a salary increase, which doesn’t exactly help the situation.

The problem is self-perpetuating in that women face a kind of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation when it comes to asking for more money. Studies show that women seeking to negotiate their salaries face a (highly sexist) dilemma: They have to weigh the monetary benefits of negotiating against the social consequences of having negotiated, which research shows are especially harsh for women.

…until now. Lady money seekers rejoice! A new study identifies a possible solution to this kind of wage gap catch-22, a way to counteract all those negative impressions you’re making by being a bitch wanting to be fairly compensated for your labor. And what is this utterly shocking, totally groundbreaking brand spanking new recommendation for women hoping to ingratiate themselves to the mighty dollar?

Be “feminine and apologetic.”

Huh. Where have I heard this advice before? Oh, maybe embedded in every single cultural and social message I’ve received since I was born.

The report, which seems to be well-meaning in the sense that it seeks to find solutions to the unsolvable state of Existing While Female, is used as the basis for this AOL News article as a resource to “devise clever ways… to ask for a raise” that will and help you “appear non-aggressive and feminine.” Such tactics include: mentioning how weird you feel about asking for a raise (self deprecate!); making the argument that your negotiating is actually good for the organization as a whole (it’s for the greater good!); asking your boss what he or she thinks about your raise; and blaming it on someone else.

It’s sad to me that even today, the most scientifically sound way for women to pursue equity and justice is by conforming to traditionally feminized gender stereotypes grounded in submission and meekness. So this week, we’re crowd sourcing some alternative tactics in our weekly weigh-in:

Have you ever negotiated for a pay raise or promotion? What tactics did you find successful? What advice would you give to others in the same position?


The Feministing Five: Lily Ledbetter

Romney campaign on whether women should be paid fairly: we’ll get back to you on that

Infographic: women still get paid less money!

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is a writer and advocate focusing on race, gender, and sexual and reproductive rights. In addition to serving as an Executive Director at Feministing, Lori is the Director of Global Communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Lori has previously worked at the United Nations Foundation, the International Women’s Health Coalition, and Human Rights Watch, and has written for a host of print and digital properties including Rookie Magazine, The Grio, and the New York Times Magazine. She regularly appears on radio and television, and has spoken at college campuses across the U.S. about topics like the politics of black hair, transnational movement building, and the undercover feminism of Nicki Minaj. In 2014, she was named to The Root 100 list of the nation's most influential African Americans, and to the Forbes Magazine list of the "30 Under 30" successful people in media.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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