There often seems to be a double standard where assertive female employees are concerned. However, a recent study suggests confidence can sometimes literally pay off.
Published in The European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, the research indicates that dominant and self-assured women are paid (on average) more than those who don’t allow themselves to speak their mind. Researchers surveyed 375 male and female employees of a Netherlands-based electronics company. The results showed that strong-willed employees of either gender were likely to be compensated more than their shy and reserved coworkers. That said, women were paid less than men, regardless of assertiveness. Non-assertive men often still made more than their female peers.
As a reflection of gender stereotypes in the workplace, this (admittedly limited) study is an encouraging sign of change. A longstanding belief that women need to be nice and agreeable in order to succeed in their professional life, often affects women’s decisions about whether to negotiate a raise. (Read more on smarter ways to ask for a raise.)
With that encouragement, though, comes yet more confirmation that the gender pay gap persists. Dominant women are still not always paid their worth compared to male colleagues, while women who don’t speak up are punished with smaller salaries.
Payscale’s own data shows that this continues to be a problem in the U.S. In 2016, the uncontrolled and controlled pay gaps have shrunk, indicating that society might be moving in the right direction. Our data suggests that women earn 76 cents for every dollar earned by men, compared to 74 cents in 2015.
Women may be encouraged by these findings to speak their mind at the office and assert themselves in order to get the pay they deserve. However, the onus should not fall solely on individual women to be brave and daring in the workplace. If more managers can keep these biases in mind, and not allow them to factor into whether an employee deserves that raise, people can be rewarded based on the merit of their work. Everyone has a responsibility to address the gender pay gap in the ways that they can.