By Sonia Patel

Recently when Microsoft Satya Nadella was asked in an interview about giving advice to women who don’t feel comfortable about asking for a raise, he stated, “It’s not really about asking for the raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along.” Not asking for a raise, he said was “good karma” that would help a boss realize the employee could be trusted and should have more responsibility.” This passive expectation that women are supposed to accept whatever is given to them created a fiery debate on the topic of raises for women. Though Satya Nadella later apologized for his controversial comments he sparked a conversation that has not tamed.

A 2006 survey found that while 80% of women felt underpaid, two-thirds had never asked for more money and women who have describe it as “one of the most stressful things they’d ever done.” Men statistically feel like they have an easier time asking for raises while women usually only ask for one if they find out about a disparity in wages, such as the 7.6% difference between the salaries that women MBAs were getting and those that men were getting (according to Linda Babcock in her book Women Don’t Ask.) It is more than the wage gap though. Society cultures women to act “nice, pliable, pleasant, accommodating while boys are taught to be self-promoting, to be a little tough guy. Boys are encouraged to set goals and taught how to go about reaching them; girls are taught to think about the needs of a group” writes Sara Laschever.

This issue is also a double-edged sword because women who do in fact might in fact express their interest in a raise risk coming off as very pushy and too aggressive. As referenced in a previous WMP article speaking to the Patene commercial ( many times when a man is acting like the boss, a woman in the same role is seen as bossy just like when a man speaks persuasively a women is seen as pushy. These varying polar opposite labels for the same type of personality should not vary at all when the only thing changing is gender. So what is the solution to this issue? Firstly, a paradigm societal shift needs to occur that doesn’t incriminate women for desiring success in their careers. Secondly, women should continue to forge on with same acts of confidence in the workplace, such as not holding back and asking for a raise. Corinne Mills, Managing Director of Personal Career Management says, “You can agonize over it for months, but you just need to do it. Go in and ask. It is never as painful doing it as it is thinking about it.” And you might just win.” After all, the worst thing that could happen is that they say no.

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Written by machay