Women are totally leaning in - they just don't get a pay rise out of it

Lynsey Barber
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Women ask for pay rises just as much as men (Source: Getty)

The famous mantra of top Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg is "lean in", but it turns out women are already doing that when it comes to negotiating that all important pay rise.

While conventional thinking indicates that "don't ask, don't get" is to blame for holding women back from getting pay rises, and contributing to the well documented gender discrepancy in salaries, a surprise new study debunks this apparent wisdom as a total myth.

Read more: Would you rather run a marathon than ask for a rise?

Women are just as likely to ask for a pay rise as men, it's just that they are less likely to get one, a study by researchers at top business schools has found.

"Women do ask. However, women do not get," the scientists concluded, after studying thousands of responses to the Australian workplace relations survey, which collects data on whether workers have asked for a pay rise, one of the only countries in the world to do so.

Comparing like-for-like responses between men and women, including if they worked the same hours, in the same industries, had the same qualifications and if they were a parent, it found men are 25 per cent more likely than women to get a pay rise when they asked for one.

The research by Cass Business School, along with Warwick and Wisconsin universities, blasts a hole in the theory of the "reticent female" - that women are less likely to ask. It also found no evidence that women won't ask because they fear upsetting their boss.

Read more: How to charm your boss into a pay rise

"Ours is the first proper test of the reticent female theory, and the evidence doesn’t stand up"" said the study's co-author Dr Amanda Goodall of Cass Business School at City University.

Speaking on the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme, Goodall said she hoped the findings would encourage other countries such as the UK and US to include the questions on pay rises in their labour surveys to better understand the issue.

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