When Women Negotiate

Women experience backlash when they’re assertive about pay — and the problem won’t be solved by “Leaning In.”

It’s something we’ve all wondered: in the middle of a stressful job-interview process, when is the right time to bring up pay?

For a Canadian woman named Taylor Byrnes, the answer, apparently, was “never.” Byrnes was interviewing for a job with a Canadian startup called SkipTheDishes. After her first interview (the second was a “menu test” which she presumably had to study for) she inquired about the salary and benefits package of the job in question. SkipTheDishes responded that “your questions reveal that your priorities are not in sync with those of SkipTheDishes. At this time we will not be following through with our meeting this Thursday.” By inquiring about pay, Byrnes had violated a company taboo and was disqualified from consideration from the job.

This story highlights perfectly the unique pressure placed on women in the world of work. We all know that there is a wage gap between men and women. We also have loads of studies telling us that women are partly to blame — they ask less, negotiate less, and demand less. Byrnes might have had all this in mind when she decided to be proactive and inquire about salary. Perhaps she even calculated the risk of being slightly bold against the payoff of making progress for all women in the workplace.

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