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In response to your factual finding that, "women require a lower base increase amount in order to take the issue of money of the table for them - nearly 20% lower than men," I see many possible reasons. That differential would make perfect sense if women were paid 20% higher than their comparable male peers, so their superior absolute pay position would permit them to feel satisfied with a relatively smaller bump. Sure. Could be possible. Might be true.

Or the women might all be VPs while the men are all mere analysts, so the job level differences are masked while the gender differences seem to jump out (apples and oranges). Female VPs close to the top ceiling might be very happy with an incremental improvement to their already-handsome executive TR package while financially-strapped male analysts low in the organizational ranks would demand orders of magnitude more to attain "happiness." How did the answers compare against last year's (?) magic metric of ~$75K as the income level above which pay satisfaction is asymptotic or marginal or however they defined the research results?

It may have nothing to do with socialization protocols or psychological stereotypes.

If I have the mike now, my answer is: possibly.

Could you explain the Aargh? The numbers make sense to me. I'm female, paid well enough (though who couldn't use more money?) in a conservative company in traditionally male IT. Territorial bickering is heavy in our culture and bullying fairly accepted. I can handle it but I miss a supportive, collaborative workplace. Once I have a living wage - which I do and then some - there's no amount of additional money that would make me happy to spend 9-10 hours a day in a culture of disrespect. When I've pushed through completing an effort while taking an unusual beating sometimes I get a bonus or other reward. I know my manager means well by it but it makes me feel like a kicked dog getting a pity biscuit. Money is off the table. Respectful culture is on the table. First things first.


Spoken like a consultant. :)


I accept your explanation that the money question can't even be on the table for rational consideration in such a disrespectful culture, but not sure that this addresses why females overall should need a smaller raise than males to (all other things considered) take the issue of money off the table.

My "aargh" comes from having read and written so much about pay equity and comparable worth and the need to address female/male pay disparities; it is disheartening to me to find that women are consistently asking for less. So much so, that I don't even want to think about it or analyze it further. But I welcome other thoughts.

I hope you will think about it, since what you think matters to your readers! Have you read Dan Pink, about intrinsic and extrinsic rewards? I've never seen anyone study whether women value non-cash rewards over cash rewards to a greater extent than men but I'd like to see such a study. If I spend 9-10 hours a day at work, I want work to be part of my life. I want to feel I'm challenged and making a valuable and valued contribution in a strong team culture. If my workplace is miserable, getting paid more is like being thirsty and negotiating for extra oil to drink. I want to be well paid but I value things other than cash. When money is off the table, great culture is on it.

Cathie's response is not gender-specific, because everyone wants and needs those things. We met Dan at the SanDiego W@W conference (Ann has written separately about that, too) and (in person, before tradecraft experts) he basically said absolutely nothing out of line with our common best practice concepts. Like, none of those over-the-top sweeping generalities so often attributed to him or extrapolated out of his old research citations of small academic European studies, for example.

Money still pays the bills, and the Western (if not global) socialization process does train women from childhood to be more consensus-sensitive, conflict-averse and peace-seeking than rough dirty competitive men. Speaking very generally, of course. It is experating if women won't push to negotiate as hard as men do, because it gives an easy excuse to employers who poo-poo the continuing (although diminished) gender pay equity differential. Or maybe it's true that women simply don't care about money as much as men do.

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About The Author

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    Compensation consultant Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management.

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