Issue 12  •  Spring 2013


How to Ask for a Raise While Conforming to Feminine Stereotypes
Posted on  March 14th, 2013
by Justina Tran

A couple months ago, AOL released an article entitled, “Tactics That Will Help You Get A Raise (If You’re Female).” The article opens up innocuously enough with a statistic about women being paid less than men. The article’s credibility dissolves after the second paragraph when the author suggests that a new study offers a solution to, “devise clever ways for women to ask for a raise that make them appear non-aggressive and feminine.”

Researchers Hannah Riley Bowles from Harvard Unviersity and Linda Babock from Carnegie Mellon are the brains behind the new study about women in the workplace asking for higher salaries. Bowles and Babock apparently discovered the “most successful” tactics for women to obtain a raise.

The worst part of the article isn’t just the findings of Bowles and Babock’s study. It’s the author’s inane comments that are worthy of a scowl and face palm. For example, the researchers propose that a useful strategy is to suggest negotiating will benefit the organization.

Here’s a sentence that Bowles and Babock found effective to use, “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.” Yes, that sentence is silly. However, the author adds in her commentary, “In that one snazzy sentence, you’ve managed to recast your ‘selfish’ desire for more money as a wonderful trait you want to give to your employer. How thoughtful! How feminine!” Either the author is serious about her exclamations or this is poorly articulated satire. Please let the latter be true!

The other “most successful” strategies Bowles and Babock found are: “mention how weird you feel about asking for a raise,” “ask your boss what he or she thinks,” and “blame it on someone else.” These should probably be reconsidered as the most depressing tactics instead.

On the plus side, ridiculous articles such as this one generate hilarious comments. One particularly snarky commenter remarks, “Thank you Claire Gordon, for knocking us women backward a good 60 years. This article was such a pleasant trip back to 1953. Let me know when you’ve rejoined us here in 2013.” I couldn’t have worded it more eloquently myself.

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