ladies, be dainty when asking for a raise

Yo, ladies! Want to ask for a raise? A new study suggests that you do it by appearing hesitant and feminine — because people like their ladies dainty and non-aggressive. Of course, this will come naturally to you, because you are a lady.

Here are some of the study’s recommendations:

* Mention that you feel uncomfortable asking for a raise! Use phrases like, “I’d feel terrible if I offended you in doing this.” Because you are a lady and ladies should not feel comfortable asking for things.

* Blame it on someone else, by saying that another person suggested you ask for the raise. Your feminine mind would not come up with something so vulgar on its own.

* Put lace doilies down everywhere. (Okay, that was mine, not the study’s.)

But really, do ladies even need money? Why aren’t their husbands providing for them?!

{ 291 comments… read them below }

  1. Zahra*

    I’m wondering… Sure, you’d get the raise, but would it be as high as as a man’s? I see the advantage of opening the discussion like that, but I’d quickly change to a more assertive style if the raise wasn’t in line with my colleagues of similar level/position/seniority.

    1. Mary Sue*

      There is never an advantage of starting a negotiation from a position of perceived weakness, because if you turn more assertive the other side of the negotiation will balk harder than if you start from a position of strength and hold the line.

      I negotiate contracts with medical device vendors for a living, this is one of the first things we’re taught in basic negotiations courses.

    2. Kou*

      I can’t remember where I’ve seen this before off the top of my head, but I recall reading more than once that prior research found that women asking for raises/promotions in the standard “aggressive” (read: women being firm) would normally get them what they wanted at the time, but the “bad impression” left by the fact that they did it frequently ended up meaning they were less likely to get opportunities and favor for such things in the future.

      Which is hilarious to me (I choose to find this funny rather than soul-crushingly awful). Apparently there are enough people out there who would hold a flipping grudge over being asked for something by a woman that there is a statistically significant chance of it coming back to bite you in the butt later. I wish I could just give up and become a super villain.

      1. Schnauz*

        My hope is that in 5 years or less, that this will change. The more women who ask in a firm, professional manner, the sooner people will get over that particular sexist quirk.

  2. mozandeffect*

    I can tell you this doesn’t work if your boss happens to be a woman also :)

    “But really, do ladies even need money? Why aren’t their husbands providing for them?!”

    ::snort:: Lily Ledbetter would be ashamed of these women.

    1. Jamie*

      I thought doilies were those little paper things that come under the muffins on a platter.

      I must not be very feminine at all since my doily knowledge is sorely lacking.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        They are. Only back in the day, ladies crocheted doilies. I presume they then used the extra ones as gifts to impress their bosses into giving them a raise…

          1. Esra*

            Hussies or spinster school teachers. The spinster school teachers never asked for raises, mind, they were just so happy that people were acknowledging them in some small way.

            1. Jamie*

              And we all know Miss Beadle was only working until marriage anyway.

              Come on – I’m not the only LHOP fan here…

              1. Esra*

                Classics, for the modern day:

                “Jane, you’ve had a great time teaching and whatever, but now you’ll join me in a loveless marriage as a missionary slave.”

                “My relationships with people here are very important to me, I don’t know how typical it is for people at my level to negotiate, but I’m hopeful you’ll see my skill at negotiating as something important that I bring to the job.”

                1. Ellie H.*

                  I think Jane Eyre is possibly the greatest feminist heroine of classic literature. She did not take that offer!

              2. Your Mileage May Vary*

                Remember how Laura had to fight with Almanzo so she could continue teaching? They almost called off the marriage over it.

                1. Jamie*

                  Yep – that was 70’s feminist sensibilities creeping into the period shows of the time. M*A*S*H did it too.

                  IRL Laura couldn’t wait to quit teaching.

            2. Heather*

              Even then the only reason women could be school teachers was so they could be paid less, becaue as women, they obviously didn’t “need” money

        1. Job seeker*

          For real, I do have doilies on some of my tables in my house to protect the finish. Maybe this is a Southerner lady thing. Ouch!

          1. Long Time Admin*

            I have a few that my mom made about 50 years ago. Also some dresser scarves that she embroidered and edged. You pay for fortune for vintage stuff like this now.

            1. KayDay the LaDay*

              I never realized that doilies were expensive…I’ll be sure my mom takes care of them so they can be added to my trousseau! (but for real, my fam uses them to protect the finish on the nice furniture, too).

                1. Job seeker*

                  I guess this was a grandmother thing. I collect china teacups and teapots and some collectibles and the doilies are on some of my tables. I have a beautiful pie crust table in my living room beside a wing chair that has a antique doilie my sister-in-law gave me. Kinda old-fashion but looks nice.

            2. Schnauz*

              I never knew there were such things as dresser “scarves” until my last visit to my Grammy’s house. She has 3 or 4 that her father brought home for her mother during WWII. I’d always seen them, but never heard them called scarves until a couple weeks ago. I wrapped one around me and was like “this is considered a scarf? but it’s square” and my mom laughed and explained they were made especially for furniture. My Grammy’s are very pretty. (yes, I call my grandmother Grammy and I’m 35)

          2. Schnauz*

            My great-grandmother and her mother made dozens of doilies. I have a few and I plan to matte and frame them nicely to display on the wall. :)

      2. Job seeker*

        Jamie, I do have some doilies on my good tables to protect my china teacups and teapots I collect. I use them to protect the finish on my nice tables. I also have some in my china cabinet in the dining room. Ouch! My grandmother use to make these.

        1. khilde*

          Since I notice the 80s are coming back for the teens, just hang on. Doilies will one day come back into vogue. lol

          1. AnotherAlison*

            Yeah, and I saw some decorating show the other day that said chintz printz were coming back. Nothing compliments chintz like an end-table doily and a brass lamp.

  3. Jamie*

    But really, do ladies even need money?

    No, that’s silly!! Everyone knows we only work so there is someone to order the lunch and make the coffee for the big strong men doing all the important thinking!

    Oh – and to smile at them when they are having a bad day – nothing says supportive like willful submission!

    Someone needs to take away that author’s keyboard.

    1. A Bug!*

      If you made it through university without your M.R.S. then you don’t deserve any raises. Ha ha ha, you thought you were there to learn career skills? What a big dummy you are!

    2. Sascha*

      I need money to buy food to cook delicious dinners for my husband, and cleaning products to keep the house sparkling at all times! Oh, and lace for the doilies. Guess I’ll just have to ask the hubs to increase my allowance.

        1. Jessica (the celt)*

          Oh geez! I am laughing so hard that my husband is staring at me. (I must not be particularly ladylike. Maybe I should turn, dimple, and flutter my eyelashes to cover for that snorting laughter.)

  4. Mary Sue*

    Boy, am I glad I’m not a lady.

    I’m a woman.

    Now gimmie that pay raise. I’ve earned it through hard work and excellence.

    1. Sascha*

      My parents are always complaining that I’m not ladylike and I should behave more like a lady. Crap like this article is why. Now give me my pint and kindly f**k off.

    2. HR Gorilla*

      Mary Sue! I thought I was in the minority (heh) about not liking the term “lady.”

      I also haaaate the expression “man and wife.” So if/when a woman gets married, she’s no longer a woman–she’s a WIFE. The man, of course, is still referred to as a man, not a husband. BLERG!

      1. Jessica (the celt)*

        Not all the time, luckily. It’s common where I grew up (at least, from the time that I can remember weddings) to say “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” When I got married, I had our officiate (who happened to be my best friend from childhood onward) to say, “I now pronounce you [Hisname] and [Hername] [the new last name for BOTH of us that combined both of our prior last names].” My husband’s mother burst into tears at how sad it was that we both were changing our names, because it wasn’t particularly “the thing to do” in her mind.

        I’m with you, though. I was just thinking about this when I saw a wedding on TV and it said “man and wife.” I thought it sounded odd (as I didn’t grow up with that being common), and it led to my thinking toward why the heck it sounded odd and weird to me. I came to the same conclusion that you did above. He’s a man, but she’s his (possessive pronoun, anyone?) wife.

        1. AgilePhalanges*

          My (now ex-)husband and I both changed our names to a combo of our original last names, too. And then we got divorced, I kept the married name, and when he re-married, he changed his name AGAIN, along with his new wife, but to his mother’s maiden name. Apparently they didn’t like the combos their last names would have made, or just liked the idea of honoring his mom or something. But he’s probably one of very few men who not only have a “maiden” name, but have changed their name when marrying, TWICE.

          1. Jessica (the celt)*

            It’s so funny, because I had never heard of both people taking both last names when we decided to do it (it was a compromise between “I want to keep my name”/”Well, I want to keep my name” and “Why don’t you want to take my name?”/”Why don’t you want to take MY name instead?”). After I got married, I moved a few states away, and I now work at a place with about 50-75 employees where at least five other couples have done it as well, including my current supervisor.

            The sad part? I had more trouble getting my name changed when I had to do all of that (to both last names, that is) than my husband did. He sent the paper work, and they changed it. I sent the paperwork, and they changed my last name to his bachelor name. Then I had to call and send the paperwork AGAIN for them to change it to our married names. One company argued with me that they had never received the paperwork, which led me to ask why they had randomly changed my last name to my husband’s former last name? They had no answer to that and meekly changed my name to the real thing.

            We didn’t hyphenate either, which blew the minds of the powers that be at certain companies. I’m shocked at how many companies have programs that can’t put a space or a hyphen in a name. Heck, I know people who have hyphenated or spaced FIRST names, so why is this so hard in this day and age?

            AND they have got to change that line on forms from “maiden name” to “former name” or something. I was never a “maid” and neither was my husband. ;~) /rant

            1. AgilePhalanges*

              Hmmm…we did the in-person name changes together, so didn’t notice a difference in how one of us was treater over the other. But the lady at the Social Security office (who barely spoke English, by the way, and I’m not one of the people who think that “those” people shouldn’t be allowed in our country or whatever, I do think if you have a customer-facing job in a government office, you should be able to clearly speak and proficiently understand the dominant language of the land) couldn’t grok what we wanted to do. We said, “his last name is Smith, and my last name is Jones, and we want to be Mr. and Mrs. Smones.” She said we couldn’t do that, because we’d be dropping letters. We could be Smithjones, or Jonessmith, but not Smones. Much explanation and repetition later, I said, “What if we wanted to become Mr. and Mrs. Doe?” Well, that would be fine. I said, “Okay, we want to be Mr. and Mrs. Smones.” She processed the paperwork.

              Then, when we got divorced, the boilerplate divorce paperwork says something like, “Jane Smones, formerly Jane Jones, and John Smone, wish to dissolve their marriage” or whatever. I asked him to add my STBex’s “maiden” name, and he said it wasn’t necessary. I’m thinking if it’s a legal paper trail, and you need to include MY former name, that you should include HIS former name, too. Or if it’s not actually all that legally necessary, then you shouldn’t have to have my former name on there, either. Hmph.

            2. Editor*

              The no-space rule has been a hassle for me for years. No, people, the last name I used to have and the added name just hang out there together.

              If the computer system can’t handle it, I let them hyphenate it. Particularly after having many businesses just lose the end of the name. I don’t know what they do with people who have traditional Spanish compound surnames.

              The other problem I encounter is with people who ask for my last name in the voter registration line, at the pharmacy or wherever. I give them “Twoname Surname,” they look it up under S, I say wearily that it should be under T, and they disagree or look bewildered or something. I’m so tired of hearing, “but I thought Twoname” was your first name. I now tend to say, “my last name is Twoname Surname” so they don’t waste my time. Even so, some people Just Don’t Listen.

              1. Job seeker*

                I really wanted to change my last name to my husbands. I would not have liked to have added both names together. I guess to each his or her own, but I wanted to be a unit. I wanted it to be us. I was so happy to become his wife and share my life with his. I liked the expression and the two shall become one. I am not saying anything bad about those that choose to join both last names, but there is something sweet about taking his name. He is suppose to be your protector, lover, best friend and head of your family. You can’t have two captains over one ship. Just saying.:-)

                1. FreeThinkerTX*

                  Who says he is *supposed* to be??

                  I guess I’m doing it wrong then, being in an egalitarian relationship that is devoid of captains, let alone ships. My boyfriend of 10 years is not my protector, nor is he the head of my family. Just being born with a certain set of genitals does not automatically make you The Leader in your relationships.

                2. Jessica (the celt)*

                  We are very much a unit and we have shown that in a variety of ways. My husband and I live a “leave and cleave” lifestyle, and our last name was actually one of the major ways that we showed this in our marriage: we left our old names separately and clove (or “cleaved,” if that’s your preference) them together to become a new unit.

                  If you research naming conventions (which happens to be a pastime of mine), you’ll see that many cultures do not have the naming convention that is common in the United States. Having immersed myself in Spanish culture for years, I can say that there is nothing “non-whatever” (fill in the blank: non-wifely, non-religious, non-submissive) about both of you taking both last names when you get married or even keeping your own. It’s purely cultural and traditional (and fairly new. Most research puts the trend back to about 1000 years only, so only midway through the Christian era even, let alone the history of humankind as a whole). Heck, last names themselves are fairly new in the history of humankind (except for the “son of x” or “daughter of x” types of designations).

                  I adore my husband. He is my best friend and the most amazing, compassionate, and kind person I’ve ever met in my life. I was extremely excited to become his wife and couldn’t wait for that day. No matter what naming convention we used after that day, we are still us and are still a separate unit, a new creation, “two becoming one.” We just chose to also make our name a symbol of that unity in addition to the marriage itself.

                  Can you tell that we didn’t take the decision to change our names lightly? There was a lot of discussion and a lot of research and a lot of understanding. I don’t say anything about anyone else’s naming choice, because I assume a lot of thoughtfulness went into the decision, and I wouldn’t want to just belittle or discount that decision that they both came to as a unit, as a couple, together. As you so succinctly said, to each his/her own (or in this case, to each couple…).

                3. Anonymous*

                  Job Seeker – Yep, my screen name says a lot about me; thanks for noticing!

                  As a free-thinker, I am totally for every single individual living their lives in the way they best see fit. That is, after all, what being free to think for oneself means. What I have a problem with is the decreeing, by strangers, of certain behaviors being more right (somehow?) than others for the whole of the population.

                  To wit, you said, “He is suppose to be your protector, lover, best friend and head of your family. You can’t have two captains over one ship. Just saying.:-)”

                  Your use of pronouns indicated many more people than just yourself. Had you kept your comments to the joy that you, as a singular individual, experience at handing over a portion of your autonomy to your husband, I never would have commented.

                4. FreeThinkerTX*

                  Aaaand… “Anonymous” above is actually FreeThinkerTX. I forgot that my Gravatar ID doesn’t automatically come through when I use my iPad.

                  Mea culpa!

              2. Jessica (the celt)*

                Exactly! My minor was Spanish, so I didn’t think anything of having two last names with only a space. The bad part is that my former last name could be a man’s first name as well, so they do that “but I thought it was your first name!” thing to me as well. I just look at them weird. I’m a woman with an obviously female first name. It’s worse for my husband of course, since his first name could be that (or they think it’s his middle name and he has two middle names), I suppose.

                The worst was our doctors’ office, where their system couldn’t hyphenate AND they couldn’t put in a space. So my last name was MAIDENNAMEBACHELORNAME in the system (caps and all for some reason). The pharmacy always had issues with it. Always. (They finally updated their computer database system this past year, so I actually have my legal name on medical documents now!)

                And picking anything up (library, pharmacy, etc.)? Forget it. Same as you. I say, “My last name is First Second, two words, only a space, and my first name is Jessica.” They respond, “I can’t find it under Second. Are you sure you have something here?” And I say, “It’s under FIRST Second. Under F, not S.” It is definitely a People Just Don’t Listen issue, but they always look at me like I don’t know my own name or something.

                1. Job seeker*

                  FreeThinkerTX, I like your name free thinker. It says a lot about you. Personally, I am an old-fashioned Southern girl and I do believe the man is our protector. I also believe to each his own. I like my husband being my protector, lover, best friend, head of our family, shoulder to lean on etc. I would never tell another couple what is right for them, but men and women are very different. We do have different roles and I for one am very glad.:-)

        2. MJ*

          When I married, our gift list vendor (a large department store) not only automatically changed my name to my husband’s when I’d specifically requested that they not do so, but when we went in for a meeting to get the gift vouchers from our list, with me giving all of the details and decisions, the assistant consistently spoke to my husband. He’d ask my husband a question, I’d answer, and he’d ask my husband the next question. My husband was too embarrassed to say anything. Ladies don’t make decisions either, or talk.

            1. Job seeker*

              But, one last thing FreeThinker, I am a middle-age person and have been happily married over 30 years, so I must be doing something right. Everyone will not think like me and I do understand and that does not make them wrong and me right. I do have a brain and do use it. Maybe some of the people of my generation just have a different view of relationships. This was just my opinion. :-)

              1. FreeThinkerTX*

                Job seeker,

                I’m sure you’re doing whatever is right for *your* relationship. That was my point. Not every relationship is the same. What works for you and your husband would be the death of another couple.

                I think it’s great when people share what works for them; it’s how knowledge is spread, after all. However, I think it’s poor form — and, quite frankly, rude — when someone says that what works for them is what everyone else needs to be doing, too.

                Thank you for sharing your experience in your marriage.

                1. Job seeker*

                  I do not want to get in a debate or argue with you. Like I said this was my opinion. You mentioned this relationship was a boyfriend of 10 years. My relationship is a marriage of over 30 years. Well, a marriage is very different from a boyfriend and girlfriend relationship. It is a partnership both legal, financial and a bond. I am sorry if you seem to find my opinion so wrong. What I think is rude is you keeping on with this. Do what you want, it is your life. I wish you the best of luck.

  5. Anon*

    Apparently this article admits that this NOT how to get a raise: When women used phrases like “I hope it’s OK to ask you about this,” […] the researchers found that they were able to defuse the social repercussions. But it didn’t actually help them get a raise.


    1. Anonymous*

      There were some tactics listed, though, that did work. The biggest concern is that you’ll ask using “confrontational” means, get the raise, and then never be considered for anything again because you’re so pushy, rude, and a witch.

  6. Construction HR*

    Of course, this will come naturally to you, because you are a lady.

    The ones here? Really?

    -deep breath-

    ; ; ; ;

  7. bearing*

    Okay, the recommendations based on the results are grating.

    But what’s your opinion of the study’s methodology and data?

    And if the results are accurate, but the recommendations are in your opinion ill-advised, what different recommendations would you make based on the results?

    1. K*

      Well, first of all, I think there are serious questions about whether people’s opinions of strangers they’re viewing on video has any relevant to people’s opinions of their own employees who they work with on a daily basis.

      Second, it looks like the researchers assumed that taking phrases that increased likability but not money and combining them with phrases that increased money would, together, increase likability and money instead of actually working at cross purposes.

      1. Chriama*

        I agree with what you’re saying about the strangers vs coworkers thing. I remember taking an organizational behaviour class that talked about stereotypes and perceptions. One section talked about how, in a work group of men and women, strangers evaluating the group were likely to attribute its success to the men. But if presented with concrete examples of how the women contributed, or if they were familiar with the women’s work, they were more accurate in their assessment of each person’s participation.

        Overall, I find that the study’s conclusions are only valid in very controlled, very unlikely settings.

      2. Jamie*

        Now that I’ve read the study what is upsetting is that while everyone on the video is a stranger the women were still penalized when not focused on others.

        So that’s something important to know about societal impressions, but it’s also important for us to know that when we go in to negotiate we’re not just some woman in society as opposed to some man.

        We’re going in as individuals with developed reputations with our boss. I mean when I go into my bosses office I’m Jamie – not his female head of IT.

        So even though society may have work to do it doesn’t mean we, as individuals, shouldn’t have the conversations when appropriate.

    2. XX Engineer*

      It seems pretty suspect to me. It’s like one of those “how much would you pay for our product?” studies that companies have discovered are totally useless. You’re never asking a random stranger for a raise, you’re asking someone you have an ongoing relationship with who already has an opinion of what you’re worth to the company.

  8. Revanche*

    I and my good bosses would all be wondering if you were on crack coming to us with these mincey-mealy phrases. I’m wondering if there’s a footnote in there somewhere suggesting that if all else fails, HAVE VAPORS.

    Because really, what else would you expect from a Ladie Burdened Withe Incomprehensible needes? (Now I’m thinking Loki and “I am burdened with GLORIOUS PURPOSE.”)

    1. Sascha*

      I’m going to start saying I’m Burdened with Glorious Purpose whenever I’m in project meetings.

      1. Lils*

        I’m totally getting the vapors the next time something difficult comes up at work. Maybe I need a fainting couch in my office.

        1. Jamie*

          Just loosen your corset, sweetie…many cases of the vapors are due to being laced in too tightly.

          But let no man happen upon you in a state of dishabille!

          1. HR Gorilla*

            I love this blog post, the comments, and you, the commenters, to pieces. You are positively making my day. :)

  9. Lisa*

    AAM – Please consider adding a nofollow attribute to that study link, please stop sharing your site equity with morons by giving them some of your link juice. Or remove the link in a week.

    Women are judged by their personality, men are judged by their work. Men never get told to “smile” by their bosses, but women do. In a women’s review, you will hear about her negativity, but in men’s reviews they only hear about performance.

      1. Camellia*

        I once had a co-worker who was taller than our boss and he told her in her review that she had to ‘change her body language’.

        He refused to elaborate, so the only thing we could come up with was that she was supposed to slump over to stop being taller than he was.

      2. BeenThere*

        I would have totally shown up to work the next day in a purple velvet suit!

        .. well at least in my fantasy world

      1. Lisa*

        Next time, I am going to ask my boss when the last time, he told “matt” or “vinny” to smile was …

    1. Reeya*

      “In a women’s review, you will hear about her negativity, but in men’s reviews they only hear about performance.”

      Oh yes. This is so true.

      I would elaborate more, but it would be “unladylike” for me to rant… :D

      1. Revanche*

        HAHA I was asked once to be nicer by way of the phrase “maybe you can take your foot off their necks a little.”
        *still laughing at that*
        Nope. No one doing their job as required would feel a foot on their necks. And those who aren’t? Well, there’s a reason for the boot.

    2. Reader*

      I once had a boss spend a team lunch shredding a very nice but very assertive woman (no more assertive than most of the men), then do my annual review which was, “Be more aggressive,” then went to happy hour, had a bit much, and loudly proclaimed to the full team that my only requirement was, “In plain English, be more of a b@#$h!” Later, when I laughed, with the rest of the team including him, along with a slightly acerbic joke that a teammate made at the boss’ expense, he suddenly got serious, glared at me, and said, “There she goes! Starting early, are you?” I often feel as if I can’t win – I deal with perception if I take the “more flies with honey” approach, and I deal with offense if I am as straightforward as my male counterparts. It varies by employer, but … frustrating. AGH!

    1. K*

      As a woman with a Harvard degree, I can attest that neither of those things make you infallible (alas).

        1. Lisa*

          That only applies to Harvard / Yale, you assume they must know not to fudge up data and follow strict rules for studies. It does make you second guess things just cause it was from a harvard grad. Admit it, when someone pointed it out, you had a ping of “oh wait, what did “I” think wrong…”

    2. Anonna Miss*

      Well, one of them wrote the book “Women Don’t Ask”. I’m sure that many women, replied “Yeah – we get treated like grasping bitches if we ask for more money, while men get rewarded for being strong negotiators.”

      The point of the study is to neutralize the perception of being a grasping bitch. I condemn the workplace for being so sexist, before I’d condemn a study that tries to figure out a pragmatic way to get around this problem.

      1. Reader*

        Seriously, this. I’m so tired of the “women don’t ask” trope. I spent years working with female litigators and am surrounded by driven, well-educated women who have less than zero problem asking for anything. The reality is that asking is a double-edged sword and most of us learn that the hard way. I’ve had a man start crying during my interview and get angry because *he* felt the company was important enough for us all to make sacrifices (he drove a same-year luxury car, offered me about half of market value, and only employed women from what I saw). I’ve been talked down to. I’ve been outright told, with a patronizing tone, that being greedy is just not encouraged (and later found out I was offered $10K under what my less-experienced male colleague was). Getting a grad degree helped somewhat – looking at my resume should tell anyone that I’m going to be a bit pushy. But the early days out of college were tough. Thank goodness for the 1st boss I ever had, who refused to hire any reporter who didn’t negotiate salary. His theory was if you didn’t care enough about yourself or your work to push for more, you were going to make a seriously crummy reporter when you needed to push for more information. I’m more scared not to negotiate than to negotiate after that bulldog. Bless his heart.

        1. Reader*

          Edited to add: I’ve found that working for large companies with HR departments and standardized pay scales where they start with 15% under market and you negotiate with the HR contact, rather than directly with the hiring manager, are a godsend and this type of drama isn’t even a consideration. It’s not all a jungle out there!

  10. COT*

    And to think that my husband was telling me just last night that I should be more assertive when I ask for a raise sometime soon! He’ll be delighted to learn that the obvious solution is for him to just make more money instead.

    1. twentymilehike*

      He’ll be delighted to learn that the obvious solution is for him to just make more money instead.

      No kidding! Maybe DH and I should have sex-change operations to properly reflect our roles. We certainly must be born trapped in the wrong bodies because I’m good at Career and he’s good at Housework. How could I be so blind to the Truth!

      1. Jamie*

        Can he fold towels? Mine has recently started rolling them into …rolls…because he says it saves room in the linen closet.

        Ridiculous – our linen closet looks like it’s filled with tiny sleeping bags for gnomes.

        Sorry for the tangent – but how does someone live to be middle aged and all of a sudden decide there is a better way to store towels than properly folded?

        1. Sandy*

          “Ridiculous – our linen closet looks like it’s filled with tiny sleeping bags for gnomes.”

          That is the most hilarious thing I’ve read in ages, thank you so much for that visual.

          I have an aunt who does this, everything is rolled. My husband attempted to roll a wash cloth the other day and I made him stop.

          1. twentymilehike*

            My husband attempted to roll a wash cloth the other day and I made him stop.

            I’m picturing you swatting him on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper, hand on hip. DH can’t fold towels either … but if they aren’t in the dryer still after a week, in the basket still after a week, or on the floor, I’m happy. You can always shut the cupboard door and try real hard to forget they aren’t properly folded.

            1. Reader*

              Yeah. I don’t care how he folds them as long as the cabinet door closes properly. I’m just glad the work is done and we can move on to important things ….

              Like how he’s going to buy me stuff with his protective, manly paychecks.

              1. Job seeker*

                I realize some women want to do everything only for themselves. You were kidding saying like your husband was going to buy you stuff. Well, my husband does provide me “stuff” which I appreciate. He does not do everything around our home but puts in many long hours as a manager himself. I believe men and women should strive to accomplish their dreams. But, on a personal note I believe things at work are to be kept professional and things outside of work for me is a give and take. I have had two co-workers that came to visit me at home for advice when they were having marriage problems. They knew I was old-fashion, had strong convictions and values that some may laugh at. But, some of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers felt the same way I think. You are right, there are much more important things than how you fold and who does what.

        2. Jessica (the celt)*

          I don’t know, but I think one aspect of marriage counseling should be knowing how your soon-to-be spouse folds towels, shirts, and socks. This will save untold minutes of drama when you realize that you are folding each other’s clothes “wrong,” because you were apparently taught differently as children. Also, are jeans to be hung or folded and stored in a dresser? What about t-shirts?

          There are too many laundry-related marital mishaps to go unaccounted for in premarital counseling situations.

          1. Jamie*

            Yeah – but when you’re married for almost ten years and it starts out of the blue?

            I’m choosing to consider this his mid-life crisis.

            Love your screen name.

            1. Jessica (the celt)*

              Hey, just be glad that his mid-life crisis is manifesting itself as laundry rolling and not expensive vacations and cars or something. ;~)

              As an aside, has anyone tried to roll clothes before putting them in a suitcase when packing for a trip? My mother-in-law swears that it saves space, but I haven’t tried it yet…

              1. Anonymous*

                I used to roll. Now I bundle. I can get way more in the suitcase, and my clothes are less wrinkled.

              2. Laura L*

                I roll clothes in my suitcase. It helps a lot! With the caveat that sweatshirts and sweaters and other bulky winter clothes take up more space than you’d think, even when rolled.

            2. Jean*

              At least his mid-life crisis involves rolling the linens, not rolling in the hay with anonymous hussies (who probably became hussies after asking too forcefully for a raise…)

              NO disrespect intended re your DH, just working the various cultural stereotypes for maximum humor.

              I also love your description of the linen closet as filled with sleeping bags for gnomes. This gives me visions of cheerful red-hatted creatures toddling in and out for their clean bedding.

          2. Lisa*

            22 years I married man whose father was career air force and his mother fully embraced the miltary wife role. He told me I didn’t fold his shirts correctly. I handed him the basket and have NEVER taken it back. If I am forced to fold, I do a lousy job on purpose so this doesn’t become my job.

            1. BeenThere*

              I tried to do this with all the chores…while I haven’t succeeded in becoming entirely choreless the hubby does the toilet, bathtub, vacuuming and sweeping. I cook and generally make sure the clothes are clean however we fold our own…… I have a extremely strong belief that socks should be folded not rolled as they last longer that way. Socks that always fell down were the bane of my childhood.

            2. Jessica (the celt)*

              There are two chores that my husband and I do together: laundry and grocery shopping. We both hate doing both of those tasks, so we compromised by ensuring that while we’d both be miserable, but at least we’d be together! ;~) We fold socks differently and each hang up different things than the other (and one of us doesn’t know to check whether something can be tumble dried, but I won’t mention who), but no one gets upset, because we can grab our own things if we’re particular about how something is folded.

            3. Reader*

              Heh. I married a man who had the same response to cooking. I spent 2 weeks cooking him all of my “specialties” – and he’s since taken over the kitchen entirely.

        3. Jess*

          err I haven’t made it to middle age but I roll everything. I was taught to fold, was completely inept at it, and finally realized that rolling equals no wrinkles and saved space.

          Though I applaud the phrase “our linen closet looks like it’s filled with tiny sleeping bags for gnomes.”

        4. Laura L*

          Ha! I role my towels, too, but it’s probably more important to do so when you live in a studio apartment and store them in one of those foldable bins than when you live in a house with a linen closet…

          1. Kellyk*

            Yeah, I roll towels too. We have a couple of towel racks in our bathrooms that are actually wine racks, where the towels are stored rolled. But, we also don’t have a real linen closet.

        5. Waiting Patiently*

          Oooh the rolling started as a way to conserve space in my luggage when traveling. It has now taken over my shirt drawer. Towels….hmmm

  11. Amouse*

    Oh my, I could never do something brave like this. i would probably faint and need the smelling salts!

      1. Job seeker*

        Man, you guys are making me feel bad. I have the doilies on some of my nice tables and yes, I do own a string of pearls. My husband gave them to me and they are real. Ouch! :-)

          1. Jamie*

            Thank you for my time suck for this weekend!

            Last weekend I spent hours going through all of passive aggressive notes and now this – you all know all the best places on the internetz!

            1. Amouse*

              It’s funny because purely by coincidence after posting this yesterday I began watching Downton Abbey for the first time and Maggie Smith mentions smelling salts very early on in the series :-)

              1. The IT Manager*

                OT but I have to share. I gave Downton Abbey a try two weeks ago and am now utterly obsessed (and as caught up on the three seasons of the show as I can be in American until my DVDs from Amazon arrive. Better get here soon, darn it!)

                The first season is so superb that it wasn’t until season 2 that I realized it’s actually a soap opera. Even though I know its just TV I do feel smarter after watching allowing me to understand some things about the British class system and aristocracy that I didn’t comprehend before. (Like they seriously believe that there is some kind of inherent difference between one pale white person and another pale white person that the poor person can’t escape. It’s given me strange hope that in 100 years or so someone will watch some kind of entertainment about our time and be like “they really thought that skin color made a difference? Seriously? That’s so silly.)

                Despite the reality that I’d dislike many of these characters IRL for all their classism among other character flaws, I like them and love watching them.

                1. Amouse*

                  I’m obsessed after yesterday too! Yeah with the classism I just try to remember in its historical context that’s just the way society was and that it would be unrealistic for people of that time not to think that way – and if they didn’t, how courageous that was of them.

                  Alright I’m only on series one, so I don’t want to start a conversation about it for fear of spoilers ha!

                2. Amouse*

                  oh and some characters that are supposed to be hilariously classist like Maggie Smith’s character I love just because she does it so well and her Regal snark, because it’s supposed to make you hate her – is just hilarious.

        1. Jamie*

          Pearl clutching is just a figure of speech to mean someone being overly delicate about a situation – it’s not a disparaging reference to owning them.

          1. Job seeker*

            Jamie, Thank you. I was only kidding. I did not think anyone really meant anything disparaging about someone owning pearls. Many people do. :-)

  12. Kathryn T.*

    Doesn’t surprise me. There is definitely a double-bind trap for women in the workplace. I should see if I can dig up the study that found that the same behaviors that get men promotions and raises have largely negative repercussions for women.

  13. TL*

    One of the interesting thing about the study is that the actors didn’t ask for a specific number; they just asked to be put at the top of the salary range for their new promotion.

    I think that would have some affect on the results.

  14. Sascha*

    But I’m a lady, I do ladies things!!! (points if you guess the show)

    This sentence kills me: Even though asking for a raise might be a more traitorous terrain for women.

    Traitorous?? TRAITOROUS???? Usually one uses the word “treacherous” there, but traitorous?? How are we being traitors? Oh yes, by not behaving like ladies and doing ladies things – this clearly violates our employers’ trust and expectations.

    1. DeeDee*

      Before I even read the entire first sentence I heard that in David Walliams voice, and was snickering at my desk.

  15. Liz T*

    As to the study they reference: I think I know which one they’re talking about, and it always annoys me when people cite it as evidence that women shouldn’t negotiate. In the study I’m thinking of, women who negotiate are thought less of than men who negotiate–by third-party viewers. NOT by the people they’re negotiating with. So, people who know nothing about negotiations, and who have no role in the negotiations, might think you’re uncouth if they somehow see you negotiate. This is relevant to how society views women, but not necessarily relevant to NEGOTIATING WITH A PROFESSIONAL.

    1. Anonymous*

      THANK YOU!!! +1 million to this. This study had a different (equally questionable) sample, but usually the the sample is college students – probably not a representative sample of the perceptions of managers in most businesses.

      1. Meaghan*

        Something like 90% of social science studies use college students because they’ll participate in your study in exchange for chocolate bars. It’s a huge problem.

        1. Kou*

          THIS, and there will be like 10 people in the study, all from the same class because they could get extra credit.

          This is why you always always always ALWAYS read the ACTUAL study when you see an article about it– you read the methodology, especially how they got their sample and how they stratified their data.

          I remember learning this at the tender age of 15 when I found about a dozen articles about a study that concluded juice was the biggest contributing factor in childhood obesity, and when I dug up the actual study they had divided the kids into two groups– one who could only have water and milk, and one who could have anything sweet (soda, juice, sports drinks). The sweet drinks group weighed slightly more and the researchers had come down like the hand of god on the juice for some unfathomable reason. Read. The. Source.

          1. fposte*

            I think it also helps to realize that most researchers are really thinking of their work as a contribution to the discussion and not the final word, but that’s not how the media likes to report it.

            Then there’s also the great Ben Goldacre article in Salon about the skewage in drug research, but since links are leaving posts in the queue right now I’ll let people hunt that down and depress themselves on their own.

    2. fposte*

      It is definitely third-party opinions, and I think it’s right to examine the difference between that and opinions of actual employers. However, I don’t think that means it can be dismissed out of hand, either, especially when we’re talking opening negotiations where people don’t know you yet.

    3. SC in SC*

      Thank you for pointing that out. I know that we’re all having some fun with this but one thing to keep in mind is that the purpose of the study is to set test criteria and then evaluate the results. The authors aren’t recommending that this is how you negotiate a raise. They are simply presenting the results of how their test group interpreted the situation. You may not like the results or may think that they are outright stupid but I’m afraid that they report (and to a small degree interpret) how others saw the situation. As a colleague of mine used to say “The numbers are the numbers”. I think you will find if you read the complete study that this was some pretty serious work and a series of “sound bites” in an article doesn’t give you the complete picture. I will not stop being serious and go back to enjoying the snarky comments.

      1. K*

        And yet critiquing the soundbites is as completely valid as critiquing the study, both of which are being done here. And while “the numbers are the numbers” is true in the technical sense, in the sense of evaluating studies of incredibly complex sociological phenomena, it’s not true in any useful stuff. The “numbers” do not tell you how to apply study results to your life, and blind interpretation to the spin the authors put on it – which frankly, they have a lot of incentives to make sound as notable as possible – is incredibly damaging regardless of the study or field.

        1. fposte*

          Critiquing the article as if it were the study, however, is problematic.

          I also don’t think there’s a lot of notability spin going on here, or if there is, they’re doing it badly–this is a five-month old article that’s barely trickled through the media, and the findings are solidly contextualized within other work, including the researchers’ own.

  16. ITwannabe*

    You forgot to mention profuse and wildly hyperbolic compliments and thanks…….”Thank you so much, Mr. Boss Man (because what lady is in a managerial role?) for listening to little ole me ramble on like this! I appreciate your valuable time. I’m going to stay up half the night baking you brownies and counting my blessings to have such a great boss! I want you to know I won’t be spending the money frivolously!”

  17. Liz T*

    I also wish we were given examples of “social repercussions.” In the workplace, I’d rather be respected than liked–is it maybe sexist to tell us that we should put so much weight on the social repercussions? Depending on what those actually are, I bet people don’t tell men to worry about them.

      1. Anonna Miss*

        “Social repercussions” as in “Would you want to work with this person?”

        In the study, the negotiator is trying to get their first management job within their company, and the interviewer is not someone they know well. (Something that could totally happen at a large company.)

  18. fposte*

    The actual scholarly article looks pretty interesting and surveys a lot of relevant research. I think it’s freely available (I got it free, but sometimes that’s because of the university connection):

    I wouldn’t leap to kill the messengers on this one (meaning the actual researchers, not the writer at AOL)–their point is to identify the obstacles women face in getting equal pay, and they’re not suggesting this is a mandate or that these findings are delightful.

    1. Jamie*

      I read it – not delightful is right. But important to understand.

      What I did find hopeful is the part where they reference that it suggests that when women break the glass ceiling it benefits not just that woman, but others in the organization. More women in high level management positions reduces the gender pay gap for lower level workers also.

      I was also glad to see deference wasn’t the factor I would have thought when I saw what they were controlling for. That it shows we’re punished for being self-advocating sucks, but I would think 20 years ago we’d also be punished for not being obsequious enough.

      I still find the article itself mock worthy – because it’s sound bitey and for most people it’s as deep as they’ll go. I think when something appears to perpetuate bad advice it’s mock-worthy.

      The suffragettes paid a social price for insisting that denying women the right to vote was absurd. We’d be hard pressed to find any reasonable person who doesn’t agree with them now. Unfortunately progress is slow – but by pointing out the absurdity in inequality maybe it can make it move a little faster.

  19. Katrina Prock*

    This article is so wrong. The best thing you can do ladies is wait until you’ve earned a raise. They’ll tell you when you’re worth it. Asking at all will only hurt your chances of remaining employed.

  20. Kat*

    As one who was raised on well-meaning grammar books, my instinct is rarely to own my ideas. I have a good friend who is incredibly aggressive with business, and am entirely jealous of what she pulls off! I keep trying to be more confident but nerves send me into this passive placating mode which undermines my requests and GRRRRR if I don’t hate myself for it! Studies like this make me more determined to be straightforward, honest, and confident, because seriously? That’s how the world expects me to behave?!

  21. Mints*

    Lol this is why I love this blog, and always read the comments!

    My goal in work, which I shamelessly stole from somebody else, is to be so good at my job, I can do freelancing in my free time and when people ask if there’s room for negotiation in rates, I can say “Only if you think I charge too little” HAHAHA laugh at my funny ass joke and stare at them, and still have people willing to be clients.

  22. AnotherAlison*

    So, while we’re all mocking the study, I’m curious how many of the women here do negotiate for a raise. What approach do you use? What’s your success been?

    1. Katrina Prock*

      Last October, I negotiated 40% more salary, 50% more vacation and bonus potential. All because I was under market rate and ready to walk.

    2. Jamie*

      I am not a great negotiator – but I’m getting better.

      I didn’t negotiate at all coming in the door so when my position had expanded to the point where I was marinating in resentment over my salary (yes, waited too long) I scheduled a meeting with my boss to re-evaluate my compensation. He agreed an increase was justified so he asked me to compile market rate as best I could.

      My position is a weird amalgam so it’s not like I can just go to a salary calculator.

      I did and compiled data from 20 positions with similar duties and scope of responsibility. I think I got 16 or so locally, but had to go to other markets which were similar economically to mine in order to get a sample of 20.

      I asked for a 33% raise. I got 25% and a sizable bonus.

      That was my only hardcore negotiation because usually I just take the raises they give me and say thanks – but I was getting really pissy about it at that point.

      I will say though, that while I don’t barge in demanding raises all the time I’m not shy about owning what I think is my value.

      We just got our W2s and I made $1,200 and some change shy of double my first years salary. I’ve been here 4.5 years.

      Now that includes bonuses and stuff – but my base salary is up 47% from my sign on salary.

      I’m debating hitting submit on this because I know it looks assy – but you asked about real life situations and sometimes you really do get more being straightforward.

      I am positive I would not have gotten a dime if my approach was that someone told me to ask. I am a woman in upper management in a male dominated industry…that kind of demure deference would not only not be rewarded, but I’d lose areas of responsibility.

      And FWIW I’m not a bitch – at least I don’t think so. I’m polite but direct – and I’m certainly not a man. You don’t have to trade femininity to get results.

      For crying out loud I have more pink and Hello Kitty stuff in my office than any grown woman should – I have the femininity of a 6 year old.

      1. twentymilehike*

        I scheduled a meeting with my boss to re-evaluate my compensation.

        Brilliant phrasing. I’m working up to it … but have no idea how to bring it up. Plus admin salaries are all over the board so I’m still super confused about how to fingure market rate.

      2. HR Gorilla*

        Jamie, I don’t think your specifics sounded “assy” at all. Good for you for owning your value and performance, and expecting corresponding compensation for it. I think knowing and owning your worth is easily half the battle for anyone negotiating for a raise, male or female. However, women are so often conditioned to downplay our skill and ability.

        When I asked my boss for bonus potential–in keeping with my position and authority–he granted it because he knew that I knew my value. He did throw in a comment that he himself usually waits for his boss to notice his performance and compensate him accordingly, because he “knows that he’ll be taken care of,” but I wasn’t buying that for a second. He’s the toughest/best negotiator I know–I’ve learned a ton from him–and he doesn’t balk a bit at pointing out his side’s value in any type of negotiation. I bristled (inwardly) at the pat-on-the-head, patronizing tone of his comment, but walked away happy with my bonus. :)

      3. BW*

        That’s how my mother did it. She found she was getting paid way under market, and even freshly minted lab techs with no experience were making much more than she was. She compiled all the numbers, and arranged a meeting with her boss. Initially she was denied to her face, but then a couple months later she actually got the big raise she had asked for.

        Not assy at all. There’s nothing wrong with asking to get paid what the job is worth. If you don’t stand up for yourself, who will?

      4. Katie*

        I really appreciate honest answers like that. I’ve never negotiated, and probably won’t anytime too very soon, but it’s good to hear how people do for when that time (hopefully) comes.

      5. mm*

        A man would never consider himself “assy” because he was straightforward about asking for a raise or repeating the story about how he did it. Women need to get past worrying about how people will perceive their behavior if they don’t act feminine during negotiations.

        1. Jamie*

          Actually – my worry about sounding assy was talking specific percentages, because it felt kind of tacky…but I thought it was important to show what the results were so I left them in.

          I actually didn’t think my approach to my boss was assy at all – just worried about how my post would be perceived.

        2. Kathryn T.*

          The problem is, whether we worry about it or not, people’s perceptions will change — often in ways that are negative for our careers. Sticking your head in the sand doesn’t make the problem go away.

    3. Malissa*

      I calmly and straight forwardly explain why I should get one. I usually ask on the heals of lots of praise. One time I had to remind an employer of our original agreement. I was neither dainty or lady like in that case, I was however, prepared to walk out the door if I didn’t get the raise.

      1. Jamie*

        On the heals of praise is key – you want to make your case when you’ve got really recent results and everyone is acutely aware of your awesomeness.

        Not that your accomplishments are any less awesome 6 months later, but they aren’t as powerful once the new wears off.

    4. AnotherAlison*

      Alright, well that’s 3 so far. I’m impressed : )

      Jamie – I don’t think that sounds “assy”.

      Presonally, I’ve worked for big companies with big HR departments, salary survey access, and a desire to keep people from jumping to competitors, and have never found myself to be that far off the market. I wish I was, but I’m not. (But it’s probably good because I’m not much of a negotiator. I am trying to learn from Richard on Fast and Loud and Mike on American Pickers. . .kidding.)

    5. Jen in RO*

      I’ll admit it: I would feel really uncomfortable negotiating a raise and I would probably approach it in an apologetic manner. I’ve never done it before (I’m in the first job where raises are a thing, I was more or less a freelancer before) and I’d probably look for a new job before considering a negotiation with my current boss. yep, I’m a scaredy cat!

      1. fposte*

        Jen, do you have any opportunity to negotiate outside of work? I know those opportunities can be situational as well–it’s not like urban transit is going to haggle on a bus pass–but it can be a way to get more comfortable with negotiating (and also with saying “How much?” up front if it’s not volunteered). Travel can be good for that because there’s usually another cab if you wait and another hotel down the street. I’m not actually a regular bargainer, but if it’s an off-duty town car trying to pick up extra money by taking me a few blocks? I’m not accepting an inflated price when I can just walk, and it’s free to say my counteroffer isn’t enough.

    6. Esra*

      Raises here are tied to annual performance reviews, so a month before my review should happen, I email my manager and director to give them a reminder. Two weeks later, I push to schedule a time to have the review. For the actual review/negotiation, I try and treat it like a mini-job interview. What achievements am I most proud of over the past year? What specific metrics can I point to where something I’ve done above and beyond has benefited the organization? I’ve been good getting 3-5% increases because I negotiated a solid starting rate*, so I was already where I wanted to be.

      *My rate was actually 3k higher than their initial range, so our compromise was I accept the range coming in, and if things work out, 6mos in I get the 3k salary boost.

    7. fposte*

      My current position is a little different, because there’s not a lot of individual leeway in a state-administered budget line. However, I negotiated when my position was first created when it became clear that the model was wrong for my level; that worked fine. However, on a departmental level, negotiating for myself is the least of my worries at this point–I need staff funding and good contract terms, and I’ve been mostly satisfied with my success on those when I’ve negotiated.

      Interestingly, I successfully negotiated on the salary of my very first full-time job, helped by the fact that as a temp there I knew what the going salary was for the position and that they’d added tasks to it. (“We’d have to clear that with the head office!” they said with surprise. “Okay,” I said.) I was emboldened by the fact that I didn’t care about the job in the slightest :-).

    8. EM*

      This wasn’t for a raise; it was for a higher starting salary at a job I’d just been offered. I said something along the lines of, “I was really hoping for x” and my boss said “we can’t do x because of q reason, but we can do y” which was my desired salary anyhow (I had asked for slightly above what I really wanted. Win! I don’t think my boss, also a woman, trout anything of it. I’ve been at my job almost 2 years, I’ve gotten 2 annual raises, and this is the best job I’ve ever had.

    9. Reader*

      I’ve never found a need to be overly aggressive. Just:
      1. Positive response: I’m excited about the job and glad to be invited to join the company team!
      2. Set up:
      a. Now, in my last role in the company / my last position outside the company, many/all of the functions were the same / comparable, and I made XXXY (only if higher). I was hoping to remain in that range here. Do you have room for movement on this offer?
      b. Based on conversations with peers in the industry and the job requirements, I was anticipating something in the XXX-YYY range. Do you have room for adjustment with this offer?
      3. Smile, if they say no, ask for time to think about it and then come back in 24 hours with a repeat request if their answer was an immediate no.

      Almost everyone has either said, Yes – XXX (smaller business), or “let me see what I can do and get back to you” – and then come back with another response. Which I’ll usually accept.

      There’s a great article here on it and quite a few scripts online. I can’t do the “hard bargain” version, though. It just doesn’t work with my demeanor and tone of voice.

  23. Claire*

    Asking for a raise? Good heavens. I just plan to flutter my lashes at my boss and possibly have an attack of the vapors until he offers me more money.

    1. Reader*

      Or you could bring him (of course) some muffins. Or cookies.

      Learn how he likes his coffee and maybe iron his newspapers too. :D

  24. N.*

    “But really, do ladies even need money? Why aren’t their husbands providing for them?!”

    Well, Alison you will soon be in a position to find out for yourself (congratulations on your engagement!) Maybe you should do some covert ops and report back to us all, that question sounded like a pitch for a wildly successful new TV series…

    “Can this undercover manager ask the hard questions while maintaining an appropriately subservient tone? How long can she work outside the home before her new husband catches on to her shenanigans? Plus catch the results from last week’s show: how many days did it take to auction her now useless home office, (find out where Alison hid her laptop!) and will she remember to be indecisive with baby furniture delivery man or will she revert to asserting herself when he is five hours late? Catch this woman (and former member of productive society)’s wacky hijinx next week on ‘Alison Blunderland’*!”

    “You mean I get money for working too? Here I thought that “Payday” was just a candy bar!” -Actual quote from the pilot episode.

    Every once in awhile you find a gem Alison!

    (*Pronounced Alice-in-Blunderland)

    1. LondonI*

      Please could I gently point out that stay-at-home-mothers are still members of a productive society…

      And I say this as someone who is not a stay-at-home-mother and has no desire to be one.

  25. Mike C.*

    I don’t understand why women are asking for raises in the first place, they shouldn’t even be working. They’re taking jobs away from men trying to provide for their families.

    /Was shocked when I heard this used to be a real thing.

      1. Anne*

        Still is, in some supposedly advanced places. LOVED the news story out of Italy not so long ago, about an electric fan factory which needed to lay off some workers… they just fired all the women, because they figured the women would rather be home with their families anyway, and the men had kids to provide for.

  26. Nyxalinth*

    I’m a lady. I just live in the year 2013, not 1955 :P

    This almost made me snort Pepsi out of my nose. How Unladylike-like! No raise for me, now :P

  27. Malissa*

    It’s official. I’m a man. I earn the most money and have actually given the little man an allowance in the past. I hope to make enough in my next job so that I can have a stay-at-home wife again—his words, not mine. ;)

    1. Jen in RO*

      My boyfriend keeps saying I should make more money and let him stay home. Too bad his profession is better paid than mine!

      1. KellyK*

        I know…my hubby would be the best househusband *ever* but I would have to switch fields entirely or go into management to make as much as he does.

        1. Sascha*

          My husband loves the idea of being a house-husband, and I’d gladly have him do it if I could get a big fat raise at my job. Let him stay home with the hellions!!

      2. Jamie*

        Weird confession – when I was creeping up on the point where I would make more money than my husband I was kinda nervous about it…I was afraid it would change something…no, I don’t know why.

        So I asked him and his response was a resounding “F**k no, why would it bother me?” followed by a joke about how my background in accounting should have taught me that more money is always better than less money and that I was confused.

        Sometimes it can take a while for the negative messages from a patriarchal upbringing to stop ringing in your ear.

        And no, didn’t change a thing.

        1. Tax Nerd*

          I have seen it bother some men. Thankfully, only rarely, but most men like that have a “traditional” wife that either stays home or only works part-time. Not too many seem to marry ambitious career women.

          I have read somewhere that in situations like this, some women will take on even more of the household work than before, for some reason. Maybe to show that they ‘know their place’ in some other sphere, or whatnot crap. Like her scrubbing the toilet is a way to apologize for the sin of doing well in a career that pays well.

        2. Sascha*

          Accounting 1301: More Money > Less Money

          I’ve known a few guys like that, they feel as if they aren’t “providing” for their families if they make less money. I have tried to convince them that 1. they don’t have to be the sole providers 2. you can provide in many, many different ways, not just monetarily. 3. your worth is not tied to your paycheck. Some get it, some don’t.

        3. Reader*

          There’s a study somewhere showing that in couples where the wives make more – even just a teense bit more – the hubs are 5 times more likely to cheat.

          So there’s that. No idea how accurate the study was.

    2. Aimee*

      My husband says he would love for me to make enough money to keep him in the manner to which he is so desperate to be accustomed.

      I did our taxes yesterday, and I actually made about $10k more than my husband – I didn’t realize it was that much more. I got a promotion recently as well, and depending on how much my bonus is this year, I could be making $15-20k more than he does this year. That works for both of us!

  28. Dr. Speakeasy*

    I’ve done at least one fairly extensive literature review (in conjunction with a qualitative data collection) on this topic and based on the research that is out there – this is probably the advice at the individual level that I’d offer too. Precisely because of the double bind that women find themselves in where assertiveness is not valued in the same way as it is for males and can in fact work against you.

    At the societal level – it’s depressing and horrifying.
    Babcock isn’t wrong here – but this is the nature of a double bind – you go “softer” and be accused of “mincing,” (as this thread shows) you can be more assertive and be accused of being “too aggressive” (and there is a large quantity of research that shows what would be simply assertive for men is read as aggressive in women).

    On the plus side – there is some evidence to suggest that these effects are the strongest for undergraduates and begin to fade (although not completely) for people actually in the workforce.

    1. fposte*

      There’s a lot of stuff there it would be interesting to explore more deeply.

      But honestly, one of my big takeaways is how disappointing it is that this fairly sophisticated subject group–62% managers, average age 39, all college-educated, all work experienced–had this reaction. Sure, maybe they wouldn’t in situations with people they know, or maybe the social consequences could be mitigated over time. But they still had this disproportionate and sexist reaction. Damn.

      1. Dr. Speakeasy*

        Oh this area of literature has made me want to punch a whole in the wall on more than one occasion. It’s frustrating stuff.

  29. Dr. Speakeasy*

    Also the article you’ve linked to notes that the study found that the first piece of “advice” (Mention how weird you feel) did not actually work.

  30. Sam*

    I encourage everyone to read the actual study (Psychology of Women Quarterly, Aug 2012) before mocking the findings. It seems like much has been lost – or exaggerated – in the various interpretations.

    1. fposte*

      Agreed. I’ve posted the link to the actual research but it’s still awaiting moderation. I think it’s fine to sneer at the fact that people *do* perceive women like this, but that makes it all the more important to figure out how to deal with that and get the remuneration we deserve.

      1. KayDay the LaDay*

        ha! ditto, I think when Alison checks her computer there are going to be at least 5 links to it.

    2. Brenda*

      Yes – or at least the abstract, which the way oversimplified/bad article links to. I have to believe AAM will get back to us on this with a revised commentary?

      1. Jamie*

        The commentary still speaks to the article though. As much as I’m looking forward to reading the actual study, a lot of people won’t and then there is this noise out there of the summary of the study with this slant.

        For many that’s all they will read…and some will diminish themselves in order to try to be likable while negotiating. And that sucks.

      2. Sam*

        If you go to the abstract, there’s a small link to the free full text article on the right side of the page.

        I’ve tried posting a direct link to the article itself but the comment is gone.

      1. Brenda*

        Yeah… go back and read the above comments? I don’t know if our usually astute community is picking up on that, perhaps because of (from the original post): “A new study suggests…” and “Here are some of the study’s recommendations”

        1. fposte*

          Though that last page of the scholarly article is kind of interestingly conflicted in its own right; it kind of is offering these up as recommendations, if not a mandate, while acknowledging that it’s not the most ideologically pure of approaches to climb the ladder one way in order to change how you pull people up behind you.

          And maybe that’s worth discussing in its own right, too. I can’t go whole hog on “the end justifies the means,” but we’ve discussed clothes and makeup here, noting that they can indeed affect a woman’s professional status in her workplace. I don’t feel like we’re talking about setting some gross honey trap there, and maybe this isn’t so different. And maybe the possibility of any script at all will empower a woman who wouldn’t have negotiated otherwise to do so.

          On the other hand, I don’t think most of my workplace operates like this (and my tongue would snap out of my head before I’d apologize for seeking pay) and I already acknowledge the organization when discussing budget stuff. But am I deceiving myself? It would be interesting to know that, too.

  31. KayDay the LaDay*

    oh, I am loving the snark in this thread!

    But for those of you interested in the real study (i.e. not the horribly oversimplified/misleading AOL article) it can be found here: and is worth a skim. The authors conclude with:

    Others may perceive relational accounts as a reinforcement of gender stereotypes….the motivation for this research was to…send the message that while gender constraints are real, they are not inescapable….every woman who reduces the gender gap in pay and authority reforms the social structures that keep women in their place.

    Basically, the focus of the study was in the social consequences women face when asking for a raise that aren’t face by men. A similar situation was presented in the NY Times debate article about men involved in parenting. It, in part, mentioned that the social consequences for women not parenting perfectly (e.g. the child being picked up late because the other spouse was supposed to do it) are far greater for women than for men in the same situation.

  32. Brenda*

    Weak sauce, AAM. I get what you take issue with, but don’t you think the mocking kind of confuses the issue? Just because someone wrote a hyperbolic “Aol Jobs” (aol still exists?) “article” that misinterprets the results of the study doesn’t mean the study was bogus.

    1. Brenda*

      P.S. Re-reading your post, looks like you’re conflating the article with the study itself. Take another look!

    2. BW*

      This is terribly common when media reports on any kind of research. They turn it into something it’s not. I even recall reading an article on a study I had worked on, and it bore no resemblance to the actual results or the discussion had between the investigators. Maddening! I mocked that article somewhere – either in my personal blog or on some forum I belonged to. It deserved mocking for being so far off the mark.

      1. Brenda*

        Yes; unfortunately, this happens often. I’m just responding to all of these comments – and the original post – that seem to entirely miss the point! C’mon y’all. We’re better than that.

    1. Reader*

      Well, of course.

      But how?

      And in the meantime? If I *have* to choose, I’d rather have the fair number on the paycheck than the “fair” interaction post-interview.

  33. Ellie H.*


    I asked for a raise last September and was really nervous about it, but I literally steeled myself up for it by telling myself that I was being SEXIST in my reticence to ask for a raise, because men don’t typically have the same problem. (I asked for a pretty high increase hoping to end up with something in the middle, and I didn’t end up even halfway to that midpoint, but much better than nothing.)

    My mom advises graduate students about, among other things, job placement, and particularly focuses on negotiating for salary, especially for women (it’s a female dominated field). So many of her students report that they would never have had the courage to negotiate without her advice and that they ended up with more money than the first offer; it’s really rewarding to hear about.

  34. Meaghan*

    Wait wait wait – I’ve been going about this ALL WRONG. I thought the way to get a raise was to wear low-cut shirts and bend suggestively over my boss’ desk?

    Crap. Next thing you know, they’ll come out with a study saying that we should be competent employees.

  35. Worker Bee*

    Till I got to the very end of it I was worried if Alison got a bad hit on her head or something. Checked if I was at right page too. ;) Love the snark!

  36. Michelle.2*

    I wonder what the authors of “Women Don’t Ask” would say about this study? What follow up studies would they use to challenge the findings? What questions would they have? (They’re a pair of female college professors too.)

  37. Lore*

    I would be very interested to see how much of the wording in the article comes from the actual study . . . given that one of the study’s authors also wrote Women Don’t Ask and Ask for It, which have both been discussed here before (often by me!) and are invaluable tools on negotiation.

    1. Anonna Miss*

      The study was conducted by videotaping actors who followed the below scripts in various video clips. The interviewer was an actor played by a white middle-aged man, and the negotiator was played by white actors of average attractiveness in their late 20’s. Two of the actors playing negotiators were male. Two were female. All negotiators were described to study participants as an employee who had graduated from a “top school”, performed well in an internal management training program, and was entering a first-management position. Study participants were asked to consider the employee for placement in a management position in their department.

      Participants were randomly assigned to watch one of the videos on the internet. After watching the video, participants completed their evaluation of the employee using 7-point scales from 1 (not at all) to 7 (strongly). Participants rated their impression of the employee and the negotiation request, and then reported their willingness to grant the request, and their willingness to work with the employee.

      Part I of study:

      a.) Simple negotiation script:
      I do have some questions with regard to the salary and benefits package. It wasn’t clear to me whether this salary offer represents the top of the pay range. I understand that there’s a range in terms of how much managers are paid in their first placement. I think I should be paid at the top of that range. And I would also like to be eligible for an end-of-year bonus.

      b.) Relational script:
      I hope it’s OK to ask you about this. I’d feel terrible if I offended you in doing so. My relationships with people here are very important to me. [Simple negotiation script inserted here.] I just thought this seemed like a situation in which I could get your advice about this. Would you be open to talking with me about this question of higher compensation?

      c.) Outside-offer-account script:
      One of the client companies I was working with during the training program just made me a job offer. It’s for a management position in their company. They’re offering to pay me a higher salary than I would make here, plus a bonus. [Simple negotiation script repeated here.]

      d.) Combo of all of the above

      Part II of study:

      e.) Supervisor excuse:
      My team leader during the training program told me that I should talk with you about my compensation. It was not clear to us whether this salary offer represents the top of the pay range. My team leader told me there is a range in terms of how much managers are paid in their first placement. He thought I should ask to be paid at the top of that range and to explain that I would also like to be eligible for an end-of-year bonus.

      f.) Skill-contribution script:
      I don’t know how typical it is for people at my level to negotiate, but I’m hopeful you’ll see my skill at negotiating as something important that I bring to the job.

      Adding (b) to (a) for women increased the mean score on the ‘willingness to work with them’ measure from 3.7 to 4.65. When you’re applying for a job, their willingness to work with you is kind of a factor. (Male negotiators were punished slightly for using the same script.)

      To see all the scores, etc., READ THE WHOLE STUDY.

  38. Tiff*

    Shoot, before I’d resort to this I’d put on my lowest cut shirt, shortest skirt and crawl across my boss’ desk all tiger-like. Caress my own cheek and say, “Money…I want it.”

  39. Darcie*

    Yikes. The article is terrible, but if you track down and read the study, it’s actually pretty interesting. The whole idea is based on this claim that women should want to avoid the social repercussions of being seen as too “demanding”.
    “This disinclination to work with employees who negotiate for higher pay was consistently greater for women than men and generally negligible for men.”
    In other words, they were looking for ways for women to get more money but still be seen as agreeable. How can we play into gender stereotypes and subvert them at the same time? This doesn’t make any sense to me.

    Here’s the study, there’s a link to the full text from that page.

  40. Angry Writer*

    This brilliant advice could have only come from a 2010 college graduate who has, you know, negotiated so many raises in her so many jobs since college. Like totally so many on-the-job experiences she must have had!

  41. Senses*

    I wonder if there’s been some misinterpretation here. According to the article, the study actually finds that saying you feel weird about asking for a raise does NOT help women get a raise.

    The “blame it on others” technique also calls out naming your “supervisor” as the person who suggested that you ask for the raise. It’s hard to know without reading the script used, but it seems to me it’d be a good idea if you say your supervisor is onboard with you getting a raise.

    Some of the other suggestions quoted in the article (e.g., timing when you ask for a raise, definitely ask) seem to be reasonable and aligned with what’s been discussed on this blog as well.

    1. Ellie H.*

      I don’t think it’s a misinterpretation, I think that that part of the article is incomprehensibly worded. What I surmise they are trying to say is that using apologetic wording did not help get a raise but DID help “defuse social repercussions.” So this could be technically useful for that sole purpose, but if you actually want a raise, it’s as worthwhile as saying absolutely nothing.

      That’s a spot where the article could really have benefited from being written in a more scientific and rigorous style, because if you are familiar with academic writing, it’s easy to imagine how that distinction would have been clearly conveyed in the actual study.

  42. Girasol*

    Totally off topic, but if you want something to take away the bad taste in your mouth from that news, this from Mashable on why Blackberry will focus their marketing on women: “While the company was working on BlackBerry 10, its marketing team set out to identify the segment it most wanted the focus on, and ran down a list of traits: people of action, achievers, multi-taskers, people who are very connected and “want a tool more than a toy.” In the end, Boulben says the team found these traits tended to be “slightly more skewed to women than men.””

  43. Brenda*

    I guess this is why they say, “Never read the comments.” I’m just going to pretend this whole post / comment thread never happened and keep reading AAM (although, I guess, never the comments?), because I enjoy it too much. But let the record show that I’m disappointed in all of you for this totally weak mocking that is, like, really not helpful to the whole discussion on women, negotiation, and equal pay! It’s a complex issue y’all.

    1. Amouse*

      If you can’t laugh at something, it has power. Just because there is mocking does not mean that someone does not grasp the complexity of the issue. Unless you’re being sarcastic, I think you may have missed the point of the snark.

      1. Brenda*

        Oh, believe me, I love to laugh, and to mock. I’m trying really hard not to get too negative here, but I guess.. everyone’s reaction strikes me as kind of simple-minded and dumb? It just doesn’t strike me as very funny? Why do we care about an “aol jobs” article? Why are we being so lazy as to conflate it with the actual study, which is asking interesting questions at the very least and was conducted by two women who advocate for equal pay for women? It just strikes me as low brow. I guess this kind of “humor” just doesn’t appeal to me? It’s cool, though.

        1. Amouse*

          I’m sorry if this sounds rude but I honestly think it’s kind of simple-minded and insulting to group everyone response (over 200 responses) into one category. Judging how women choose to react to this kind of article and being critical of that reaction also doesn’t help the conversation.

          I can only speak for myself, but for me I interpreted Alison’s commentary on the article as appropriately proportioned to how silly the article is. The AOL article was so “dumb” and ultimately “amusing” that the response it elicited made sense. It did not warrant a complete “essay-style” dissection.

          As for the source study, there has been interesting discussion here on that.

          1. Jamie*

            I agree – and I think it was pretty clear that the mocking was in regards to the sound bites in the article which IMO was more than deserved.

            In reading through the comments I don’t think people are conflating the article with the study (which has elicited comments as well about the study itself), but people interpret things differently.

            Alison linked to a stupid article and it was mocked. Within the article there was a link to the actual study which was discussed, not mocked. That’s how I see it.

            If someone publishes a stupid article it should be expected that some people somewhere will call it out and laugh at the absurdity. To take the article seriously would give it power – and it deserves none.

          2. Anonna Miss*

            I had a completely different interpretation – that the results of the underlying study were silly, and the article was just reporting.

            That the comments were mostly one-liners about pearl-clutching instead of a thoughtful discussion on the barriers women face when negotiating salary, tells me that a lot of people didn’t bother to read the study and get the facts.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I don’t think it’s so outrageous that sometimes people want to have a silly discussion instead of having to have an analytical discourse on the study itself. We talk seriously here most of the time; who cares if there’s some occasional joking around?

                1. Brenda*

                  If a snarky comment comes from a place of misunderstanding, can it still be funny? I guess so, but we were laughing at David Brent, not with him.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Honestly, I think you’re misreading most of the comments here, or reading them through a lens they weren’t intended to be read through.

                  This is a smart, thoughtful, rational group of commenters. You happen to disagree with the group’s overall take on one post. That happens. Not everyone sees eye to eye on everything. I wouldn’t give it too much more thought.

              1. Amouse*

                I previously only commented on the article and not the study. I stand by my view that the snarky comments related clearly to the article and they were justified.
                Brenda, you wanted an intellectual response about the study so now that I’ve read it in detail here is the Reader’s Digest version:
                Although the intentions of the scientists are clearly honourable, the premise of the study appears to me to be inherently flawed. Upon reading the study in full, I see several problematic aspects of the method that nullify the results:

                1.The study claimed to explore the question of how women can escape the Compensation Negotiation Dilemma, but in fact the actual method of determining thos through the use of surveyed particpants measured the perception of this from a third person standpoint.
                2. There is no way to standardize non-verbal cues or even tone of voice in the actors used, therefore, gender cannot be assumed to be the cause of the final results
                3. The study claimed to avoid confounding results by using actors of “average” attractiveness but this is not measurable, it is subjective. So again, results could be due to other factors such as attractiveness
                4. This was acknowledged as a limitation of the study but it is nonetheless a valid flaw that actors were used and negotiations were simulated. As Jamie pointed out above, these were two strangers interacting as opposed to a manager and supervisor with a working history which makes the results invalid
                5. There is the “self-fulfilling” prophecy factor that comes with using these actors who have been presumably briefed on the hypothesis of the study. If they were not briefed, this should definitely have been stated outright otherwise the tendency of the actors to fall into their own preconceived notions of gender stereotypes and/or their own opinions of the final results is also a serious enough factor to nullify the results of the study.

  44. Kat*

    Sounds like a bad strategy for me.
    I work for an (almost) all-male company in a male dominated industry. There is no respect for things dainty or even pretty here. I have survived 6 years here by blending in, and recently I mentioned to my manager that I want a raise but he has not addressed the issue.

Comments are closed.