A lot has happened over the last few decades to help narrow the gender pay gap. But it still exists today and one of the reasons why it does is that many women don’t ask to be paid more. There are a number of mindset blocks that stop women from doing so. Identifying these will help you build the courage to ask.
As of 2021, women make on average USD 0.82 for every dollar men make. This is USD 0.01 higher than in 2020. However, women’s participation in the labour force has dropped to a 33-year low due to the pandemic. Many women have left their jobs to take on additional responsibilities at home, notably children’s home-schooling. Women returning later on to the workforce will likely be paid less. This will have a detrimental and long lasting impact on how much women earn.
Many structural reasons explain the ongoing pay gap. But there are a number of mindset issues too. An important one is that women don’t ask for pay rises. A recent survey in the US showed that two third of working women never asked for a pay rise. Instead, 72% planned to leave their jobs and get another higher paid one instead.
Changing jobs is no easy feat. The prospect of quitting can cause a lot of stress, in addition to the time and energy required to find a new, better job. Yet a majority of women would rather go through this process than ask for a pay rise. This is because the unpleasant emotions associated with asking for a pay rise seem worse than the entire process of changing jobs.
If you’re currently in this situation or have been, it’s important to identify what is stopping you from asking for what you believe you deserve. By not asking, you are missing out on opportunities and taking away your employer’s power to meet your needs.
Here are 8 ways your emotions and beliefs stop you from asking for a pay rise
#1 You don’t think you should have to ask
You’ve been taught, growing up, that if you do well you will automatically be rewarded. Just like at school when you get good grades for working hard. As a result, you believe that in an ideal system you should not have to ask. You believe that your bosses/clients should see for themselves how hard you work and take it upon themselves to reward you. You might even believe that if you have to ask it means you probably don’t deserve it. Or it means that your company is unappreciative - in which case it’s better to leave anyway.
#2 You’re afraid of difficult conversations
You don’t like conflicts. Every time you have a difficult conversation you can’t think straight anymore. You forget your arguments or you deliver them in the wrong way. You’re afraid you’ll get emotional and look ridiculous. You believe that asking for money is bound to generate a difficult conversation at best and an outright conflict at worst. Either way, it’s better to avoid it.
#3 You’re terrified of failure
You’ve always worked really hard. Consciously or not, you always work so hard that you are, as much as possible, beyond reproach. You’re used to succeeding in what you undertake and you like to be in control. Asking for more money seems like putting the power in someone else’s hands - a great recipe for failure. You’d rather not even try than face the prospect of failing. You don’t want to be disappointed.
#4 You don’t want to be a bother
You hate disturbing people and putting them on the spot (conflict avoidance hello!). You don’t want to put your boss in an uncomfortable situation. Every time you think you should ask for more money you then tell yourself it’s the wrong time or the wrong place. You think that the company is going through a rough patch. You tell yourself that you’ll ask later when the timing is right - but that never comes.
#5 You focus on what they want instead of what you want
As a problem solver and an empath, you’re always taking into account the other person’s opinion. You’re sensitive to the situation they might be in and try to anticipate their needs. As a result, you feel like it’s not fair to ask for a raise. You prioritise their needs over your own.
#6 You convince yourself you don’t deserve it
You oscillate between moments where you feel it is high time you ask for a well deserved raise and moments of self doubt where you think you don’t deserve it. You’ve been working hard and want to be compensated. But you regularly self sabotage by telling yourself that you’re not there yet. You will work harder and do better before you ask.
#7 You convince yourself you don’t need it
You have so much already, what would you do with more money? You feel very blessed and privileged with what you already have when so many people are lacking. You feel greedy for even thinking of wanting more. If you don’t need it, why even ask?
#8 You don’t know what you want
You’re confused. You’re not sure whether you want more money, a lighter work load or a job promotion. You feel lost and don’t think it’s right to ask for more money unless you’ve figured out exactly how much beforehand. You also don’t know how much money you should be asking for. You’re convinced that even though you’re unsatisfied with your current situation it’s not right to complain unless you know exactly what you’re going to ask for. But that moment never comes.
In other words, your emotions stop you from asking
All these thoughts trigger fear (fear of failure, of conflict) and guilt (who are you to want more?). These emotions reflect your beliefs and together they stop you from asking for something that, deep down, you know you deserve.
I couldn’t ask for a raise from myself
You might think that you’re not asking because of external reasons. You might think that once you have the right boss, once you work in the right company and once you’ve really earned it, then you’ll ask.
I used to think that too.
Until I worked for myself.
A few years after starting my own company, I still hadn’t increased my salary. There was money in the bank, no boss above me. Yet I didn’t do it. I didn’t think I deserved it. I was afraid of running out of money later on. I felt guilt and fear.
Until one day I realised I needed to break out of this pattern.
I paid attention to the fear and the guilt. I listened to - and processed - my emotions to understand where they were coming from. By using my emotions, I realised that I needed to break free of my old beliefs about rewards and work on feeling worthy instead.
When you pay attention to your emotions you’ll start to see what is stopping you from earning more. Your emotions hold information about beliefs that are holding you back. Use your emotions to identify these beliefs so that you can transform them. Your emotions, like your beliefs, should serve you. If they don’t, you can choose to change them so that they do serve you and the life you want to live.
Do you work in a high pressure environment? Are your emotions troubling you? Do you want to be able to use your emotions, instead of letting them use you?
I can help.
In my 6-month one-on-one coaching program, I help ambitious women like you to use their emotions so they can show up as their best self and feel great about themselves. I work with career driven women to give them the tools they need to be able to stay on top of their emotions - including the ones triggered by imposter syndrome. The idea is that you become your own ally, instead of an enemy.
Check out my program to see if it’s something that can help you advance your career and build the life you want to build.
You can book a discovery session (free) to see whether the program is the right fit for you.*
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