If Women Don’t Ask: Implications for Bargaining Encounters, the Equal Pay Act, and Title VII

Last spring, Jennifer and Richard graduated from the same law school with similar backgrounds. Both were offered associate positions with the same law firm and a $75,000 starting salary. Jennifer enthusiastically accepted the firm’s offer, but Richard was hesitant. He informed the hiring partner that comparable firms in this area were paying new associates $80,000 per year. The partner offered Richard a starting salary of $80,000, which he accepted. Felicia and Harold manage similar departments for an e-commerce business. They have similar backgrounds, and have been with this firm for the same number of years. When Harold meets with the CEO to review his recent performance, the CEO gives him a “superior” rating, and offers him a $10,000 salary increase. Harold notes that his departmental sales went up 10% over the past twelve months and indicates that he thinks he should receive a more substantial increase. The CEO praises Harold for his initiative and confidence, and agrees to a $20,000 increase. Two days later, Felicia meets with the CEO to review her performance. The CEO gives her a “superior” rating, and offers her a $10,000 salary increase. Felicia notes that her departmental sales have increased 20% over the past year and requests a more generous increase. The CEO indicates that he has always found her a bit pushy and self-centered. He encourages her to develop her “feminine side” and be “more lady-like.” He then says that if she wants an increase of more than $10,000, she should look for work elsewhere.