Women losing out in the pay race?

Women losing out in the pay race?

There was a time when women talked about glass ceilings – the fact that they are not easily hired for top managerial jobs, and also that they are deliberately paid low wages as compared to their male colleagues.

However, decades after women first fought for the right to work and equal pay, and managements gradually started changing their mindsets towards them, a damaging trend has come to notice of late. Women themselves don’t negotiate on the interview table and happily settle for lesser pay packages even if they are as much qualified as a male candidate and, may be even more hard working and talented, claim several studies.
In a book published on this subject some time back, Women Don’t Ask, American author Linda Babcock quizzed some fresh MBA graduates if they bargained on their first salary.

While 57 per cent of the male freshmen admitted to have negotiated, only seven per cent of the women graduates said they haggled for higher pay. Also, these men got away with at least seven per cent more money than initially offered, women simply lost out on it.
While no such studies are available on the Indian employment market, many human resource consultancy agencies and job portals here say that the scenario is worst.

Vidur Gupta, director, Spectrum Talent Management, a leading HR firm, says, “I don’t need a study to prove it. Seventy per cent of the women who approach us for jobs are not even familiar with the concept of negotiating. Others who do - generally the senior ones - do it reluctantly and start on a really low scale which ultimately does not help them at all.”

“The culprit behind this,” opines HR management professor at JIMS, Amity Business School and IIPM, Varun Kohli, “Is our so- called Indian value system. Women are not expected to ‘argue’ over salary, that they can come across as ‘over-competitive’ and ‘unfriendly’ if they do that -- is a sentiment which is stuck not just in the male psyche but women’s as well. Women, many a times, are scared of losing out on the job if they bargain and don’t even research on prevailing pay scales before going for an
interview.”

This, of course, ends up harming the women themselves. By believing that they can forego ‘some’ money and make up for it later on by proving themselves at work, women put a lot at stake, says Bhupender Mehta of job portal, changeyourboss.com.

“They barely realise, that they will have to work years more to make up that salary which their male colleagues are earning. Also, bonuses and yearly increments are decided on the existing salary. So that is also lost out on in the process,” he explains.

It is indeed a disturbing trend if young women are undervaluing their own work, says Dr Ajay Kumar Singh, associate professor of HR, Delhi School of Economics, “However, I hope that with the rise of women leaders in the corporate world such as Chanda Kochhar, Indra Nooyi and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, wo­men will realise their self-worth and start demanding better and better pay. Your salary not just takes care of your bills but is also a reflection of the authority and status you command.”   

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