How to ask for a raise without feeling guilty


The anthropologist María Olivella Quintana, Coordinator of the Equality Unit of the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), points out that discrimination occurs on many levels and that salary negotiation would be just one of them: “When one comes to a company to negotiate, two things come into play: the first is that human beings make decisions congruent with our gender, already from the election of the race. Women tend to look less individually, to think about the context, the opportunity cost, the family and colleagues. The second is that personnel managers are also gender biased. The moment a woman is perceived as being gender incongruent, at the very least, it creates surprise.” When not, I reject.

It is rare that a woman has not experienced punishment for the transgression of this gender congruence in everyday moments of her life. Something short-circuits in the soul when we wear “boy” clothes, we take the romantic or sexual initiative or, for whatever reason, a mother does not maintain a good relationship with her offspring, to give a few examples. When requesting a salary increase or demanding fair working conditions, women run the risk of being read as conflictive and if not, ask Scarlett Johansson.

When the actress black widow denounced Disney for breach of contract, the company counterattacked by disclosing her salary in what seemed like a clumsy distraction maneuver to divert attention towards the supposedly ambitious, unsupportive and capricious character of the protagonist. Johansson claimed to have lost the proportional part of her salary that depended on the box office, since the company had decided at the last moment to release it simultaneously on digital platforms, so it did not matter how much she had earned, but how much she was entitled to. They finally reached an agreement, but the fact that a company of such magnitude tried to play the greedy employee card gives us an idea of ​​what can happen on smaller scales.

Lula Ballarino, CEO of Womenalia, recovers another case, that of the declarations of the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella in 2014, who urged women not to ask for salary increases and to have faith in karma. “I came to say that, if you do a good job, ‘the system will give you the appropriate raises you deserve’ and this, in addition to being an unfortunate statement, to say the least, is that it is not true and allows the biases that reinforce a discriminatory cultural pattern: in men it is well seen that they value themselves and claim what belongs to them, in women that same thing is called ambition and is censored”.

We return to the same thing: it is not only how a salary increase is requested, but how that request is received.

Women tend to look less individually, to think about the context, the opportunity cost, the family and colleagues

© Sean Cunningham

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